BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The transition from homelessness to normal life is not as easy as just getting into an apartment. There are additional needs including work training, transportation, food and furniture.
One organization that helps the homeless meet those needs is also in need.
When the Veterans Administration’s HUD-VASH program recently put two homeless veterans into apartments they still had a problem - no furniture.
Linda Favre has operated Shepherd of the Gulf for 10 years, primarily providing basic supplies for those on the street.
Finding furniture was not part of her routine, but she knew where to turn.
“I contact the general public, that’s my resource,” said Favre, wearing her signature cowboy hat. “My wide-spread resource is our community, which is always caring and loving, especially with our veterans.”
Favre was able to find a few pieces of furniture and other supplies for Lance Flowers, an Army veteran who had been homeless for more than a year.
“None of this was mine,” said Flowers as he gestured to the dining room table and sectional couch in his living room. "I came in here with a couple of backpacks of stuff.
“People that donated, gave it to her for people in my situation that know that when we come into this apartment, we have nothing in here.”
Michael Welch is an 18-year air National Guard veteran. Two combat tours left him with PTSD. His homeless journey began with a suicide attempt. Treatment at the VA began his healing.
His homeless journey ended a couple of weeks ago, again thanks to the Veterans Administration. Favre is trying to help Welch and his girlfriend create a sense of home for the holidays.
“We’re hoping, really hoping and praying that we can get this little apartment in order before Christmas because that will help the children to be able to come here for Christmas time and of course we’ll need a couple of things for the kids,” Favre said. “Make it a warm Christmas is what we’re trying to do.”
One of Welch’s neighbors has already helped by giving him a Christmas tree and a few knick-knacks, and he is very grateful.
“I’ve met quite a few people who were willing to help us and here lately it seems like there’s a lot more people willing to do that," the soft-spoken veteran said.
Both veterans are taking their first steps towards returning to a normal life with the help of the generosity of the Coast community.
Moments before one of Welch’s neighbors had just told him about a job opportunity.
“I’m kind of in shock. I’m blown away by just the generosity of people,” Flowers said.
If you want to help these veterans contact Linda Favre at (228)229-8980.
Shepherd of the Gulf also has an upcoming event to benefit the homeless on Saturday, Dec. 21.
The Camper’s Christmas will collect personal items, food and gift items to distribute to the homeless.