A couple of years ago, shortly after a transitional housing unit owned by the Salt Lake City Housing Authority opened on 1900 W and North Temple, I had an opportunity to tour it and see how it was being used. The site had formally been a Days Inn and was sold at a good price to the Housing Authority, who did some renovation to it and used it for Veterans who need housing as they transitioned through some tough times, often related to medical or other needs. The alternative for many, would be homelessness, which is not the way we should be treating those who sacrificed to serve our country.
As we we went down one of the hallways and knocked on one of the residents doors, I was unprepared emotionally for what I would experience. Behind the door was a Vet, who had fallen on hard times and was being visited by his daughter, who at the time was the same age as my Sarah. Because of his previous housing situation, this Vet was unable to have any visitors and it had been eight months since he had been able to have his daughter stay with him. His little girl was obviously excited to have the opportunity of being there that weekend and as we thanked him for the inconvenience and I struggled to hold back my emotions, he said to me, to "tell the rest of them thank you for providing us a place to stay". Later as I got in my car, I started to cry and think how grateful I was that on a daily basis, I can go home to my family, hug my girls and enjoy the blessing of a beautiful home.
Fast forward to last night, and I again visited Freedom Landing. However this time, it was courtesy of the Airport Trax Line Contractor, Stacy and Witbeck and their workers who had decided to make sure these men and women had a great Thanksgiving meal. They started to pass the hat, and pretty soon the contractor invited sub contractors to participate and with every dollar raised, Stacy and Witbeck offered to match it. What was hoped for being enough to pay the meal, ended up being enough to not only do the meal, but furnish a room with furniture, a big screen TV, money to provide turkeys for needy families in the area and some money to go towards the new Fisher House at the VA Medical Center for family members of injured Vets who are being treated at the Hospital. I had the opportunity to help serve dinner last night to these men and women who had served their country, paid a price in health and other challenges and just wanted to make the best out of their circumstances.
I had the opportunity after serving to sit down with half a dozen of the residents and hear their stories of where they came from, how they got there and what current challenges they faced. The stories were varied but in the end, I again realized they were just like you and me, but with an extra burden and challenge. As I sit down for dinner today with my family in our beautiful home, and we pray, I know I have even more to be grateful for in my life and included in it, is my experience with the residents of Freedom Landing.
See the KSL Story at: Freedom Landing Thanksgiving for Vets