Homeless Veterans Grateful For Transitional Shelter

SEARSMONT, Maine (WABI) - The mission of the Garry Owen Motorcycle Club is simple: help veterans. It's what the members, veterans themselves, have been doing from the start.

A year ago, they took it a step further when they opened the Garry Owen House, a transitional home for homeless veterans.

"They stay here until they get themselves squared away. We don't give a hand out, we give a hand up," says Alexander Allmayer-Beck, executive director.

"I had nowhere to go," says Jeffrey Carney, a veteran who lives there.

He found himself struggling to afford housing after multiple heart attacks and a shoulder injury that put him out of work and on disability.

"So, I went to my truck and I spent 15 days in there, cold at night, burning up gas," he says

He found the Garry Owen House with the help of a homeless shelter advocate. He says here, veterans can feel comfortable and just be themselves.

"These people here have put their soul and their heart into this place to make it something and whatever I can do to make it better or to help, I appreciate it, so much. It's unbelievable," says Carney.

The house isn't state or federally funded and will never be. They run this with fundraisers and donations.

"It relies on their generosity and so far we've been able to manage it. Our annual cost last year was somewhere between 20 and 25,000 dollars, so ought to be able to raise that amount of money and keep going with what we have," says Lou Pelletier, board of directors president.

They don't plan on expanding right now but say homes like this for veterans are the answer for those who find themselves on the streets, for whatever reason. A place to go and a place to find purpose.

"We get letters or phone calls from people who have gone on after leaving here and gone on to better things and a better life and it's so gratifying," says Pelletier.

"It makes me proud to be an American and be a Mainer because the saying is true: as Maine goes, so goes the nation, and I'd love to see one of these houses in every state in the United States," says Warren Ard, a member of Garry Owen MC.

You can send donations to Bangor Savings Bank or to the Garry Owen House at P.O. Box 34 Liberty, ME 04949.

Contact Alex Allmayer-Beck at 338-31-5 for more information.