Photo by Travis Rains.
KINGMAN – The Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council is making strides in its effort to reduce veteran homelessness in Mohave County by 80 percent through the purchase of Arnold Plaza, which will be home to its Operation 6 veterans housing program.
JAVC acquired Arnold Plaza from the county in 2016 for $58,000 and is now working on the building’s redesign. The council plans for that design to include apartment-type units, training rooms, resource rooms and service areas.
“Our mission is to provide information and services to the veterans and their families in the greater Mohave County area in order for them to achieve a better lifestyle in the community,” said Pat Farrell, JAVC president, during Tuesday’s overview of Operation 6 at Arnold Plaza.
Operation 6 will do just that by identifying homeless veterans seeking a “hand-up, not a handout,” Farrell said.
“There’s a lot of concern that we’re putting up a flop house, and that is absolutely not what we’re doing,” he said.
Drugs and alcohol won’t be permitted for those residing at Arnold Plaza. Operation 6 at the plaza isn’t a quick fix, but the full package.
“We’re going to come in and we’re going to get them healthy, we’re going to identify barriers and try to remove the barriers for them,” Farrell said. “If they’re unable to work, we’ll get them housing. If they’re able to work and have a skill, we’ll get them a job.”
JAVC is working with Mohave Community College, the Kingman and Mohave Manufacturing Association, and directors from the Society of Human Resource Management to help veterans learn the skills they need to reintegrate into the community by securing gainful employment. Employment is the first step to finding permanent living arrangements.
“There’s a lot of things that impact you as you’re moving in, so you have to have some money to do that ...” Farrell said. “We want you to be successful when you walk out of here. We want you to have a four out of five chance of getting (a job).”
Along with a place to live off the streets, Operation 6 will get veterans involved with services like those offered at the Joe Bibich Veterans Service Office. Farrell hopes that the veteran suicide rate in Mohave County will drastically decline by connecting veterans with those programs.
In order to help others, Farrell said Operation 6 needs help from the community. While about $300,000 have already been raised for the project, Farrell estimates another $800,000 is needed. JAVC is now a Qualified Charitable Organization, meaning taxpayers can donate their Arizona tax obligations to the council. Those interested in helping can also become a JAVC member for $10.
If donating money isn’t an option, Farrell says donations of time can also make a difference. Visiting with or grocery shopping for veterans are just some of the ways people can lend a hand-up.
“If you want to volunteer, we will find something for you,” Farrell said.
Farrell said Operation 6 will not only benefit veterans, but the community as a whole.
“We want to be a partner with the downtown community to make it a better place,” he said. “Once we make it a better place for our veterans, we make it a better place for other homeless, we make it a better place for the merchants (and) we make it a better place for the City ...”