Anonymous donor provides housing money for homeless veterans with families

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Three months ago, a former Bowling Green businessman called Penny Ritchie at the Bowling Green VA Clinic and asked her what she would do if he donated a substantial amount of money to help veterans.

Without hesitation, she said she would provide housing for homeless veterans who have families.

“Housing, the transitional homes for our veterans with families is something that’s been needed for quite some time,” said Ritchie, the operations manager for the clinic. “We have not had anything like that. In this region there’s nothing in the Kentucky area that will house veterans with families.”

Wednesday afternoon at the Veterans Appreciation Store next door to the clinic in Fairview Plaza, the donor presented the check to Ritchie and Kentucky Veterans Brigade founder Bob Wilson.

The majority of the $270,000 check will pay the rent on apartments – currently under construction on Patrick Way – that will be provided to homeless veterans with families for 90 days while they get on their feet. Referrals for the free housing will come from the Housing Authority of Bowling Green, the Salvation Army and the Tennessee Valley Veteran’s Administration.

Some of the money will be used to provide transportation for veterans here who need medical treatment from the Nashville, Tenn. area VA hospitals and a portion of it will help keep the store running.

“Our primary role is as a 501c3 is to receive the monies donated so that we can work with the local VA and supply transitional housing, transportation as well as secure the store that we’re in now for the next year,” Wilson said.

Employees at the local VA clinic started the Veterans Appreciation Store and through the generosity of their landlord, they set up shop next door to the clinic. Everything in the store is free to veterans.

The local VA clinic can’t take in monetary donations. But the Kentucky Veterans Brigade is a charitable organization that can, Ritchie said.

More donations of both money and furniture are needed.

To donate, call Ritchie at 270-782-0120. The apartments are expected to be available in the fall.