Midtown recovery home for veterans opens after renovations


Alpha Omega Veterans Services Inc. unveiled its newly renovated facilities in Midtown at 1266 Vinton Avenue at a grand opening event on Feb. 17.
 
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency provided more than $195,000 in grant funding to assist with the renovations on the home for military veterans who have struggled with homelessness, mental illness, or substance abuse.
 
“This is going to be a bridge facility to permanent housing, so there will be transitional support services that we will be rendering until we can get them back on their feet and able to reintegrate into society,” said Alpha Omega executive director Cordell Walker.
 
Representatives from THDA, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and State Senator Lee Harris were on hand to celebrate the completion of the two-year renovation project.
 
Up to 16 veterans at a time live at the two-story home which also offers counseling and other services. While veterans make up 9 percent of the overall population, they make up 25 percent of the homeless population, so recovery homes like Alpha Omega are critical.
 
Havie McMullen, Alpha Omega director of facilities oversaw the renovation and did much of the work himself.
 
“Before the rehab, we used to use this facility as a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) site,” said McMullen, a disabled veteran who served in the Navy. “Guys came here from four states: Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, and we would transport to the (Memphis Veteran Affairs) hospital for treatment.”
 
The house was built in the 1940s. The renovations included fixing a badly sagging floor in the kitchen and putting new tile down, installing new appliances, fire suppression system, bathroom sinks, showers and toilets and adding a laundry facility.
 
Home Depot is donating to the project by installing a gazebo.
 
“They’re replacing the privacy fence and building a gazebo outside,” said McMullen, who previously rehabbed a hospice on Central Avenue for Alpha Omega at a cost of $480,000.
 
Many of the Alpha Omega 38-person staff are veterans who have gone through the organization’s recovery program.
 
Ola Mae Ransom created Alpha Omega Veteran’s Services, originally called Alpha Omega Faith Homes, in a single duplex in 1987 after her two sons, who both served in Vietnam, were diagnosed with PTSD. It was the first non-profit agency specializing in services for homeless veterans in the nation.
 
The organization has served more than 10,000 veterans since then. The organization serves 122 clients daily across six different facilities, and its budget has increased from $80,000 to $4.5 million.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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