Veterans Guest House serving veterans, families for 25 years (nonprofit spotlight) | nnbusinessview.com

Veterans Guest House serving veterans, families for 25 years (nonprofit spotlight)

Plumas Bank sponsors this content

Noreen Leary

Special to the NNBV

VGH 3.0: The newly expanded Guest House, which opened in July 2018, brought the house to 33 bed capacity.
Courtesy photo

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE VETERANS GUEST HOUSE:

Donate your time at the Guest House, at a fundraiser or on a committee. Call us at 775-324-6958.

• Donate: Any amount is appreciated. Visit www.veteransguesthouse.org.

• Donate a Wishlist item. The latest needs are on the front page of the website. Many businesses and groups hold Wishlist drives for us, and we so greatly appreciate those items.

• Attend our next fundraiser, the 7th Annual Boots Meet Fashion, Fashion Meets Fun Champagne Luncheon and Fashion Show at the Atlantis on October 18th. It features the latest fashions modeled by women from all branches of the military. Tickets can be purchased at www.veteransguesthouse.org. It will be fun!

“Never again on our watch!” This vow, made over 25 years ago, was a promise to our veterans and their families that they would always have a safe, warm, and clean place to lay their heads at night while in the Reno-Sparks area for medical treatment.

Our founders made that vow after noticing fogged-up car windows in the parking lot of the VA Medical Center on many cold mornings. This could only mean one thing; someone had slept in that car.

Veterans and their family members were sleeping in their cars because they had no other options. They could not afford lodging. They could not crash on someone’s couch, and they could not drive the long distance back home every night.

On December 14, 1994, because of that vow, Veterans Guest House hosted our 1st guest in a 1935 bungalow located at the corner of Taylor and Locust (VGH 1.0).

This house, affectionately known as the Spouse House, had 3-5 beds depending on the year and provided about 75 nights of lodging per month.

As you can imagine, as word spread that there was an alternative to Veterans and their families sleeping in their cars or hospital waiting room chairs, occupancy at the house quickly exceeded 100%.

In 2004 the brick bungalow was demolished to make way for a 4,700 sq ft. “home away from home” with 12-beds (VGH 2.0). This home was augmented with five additional beds in 2012. These homes served our veterans and their families well for just over a decade.

With an aging veteran population and continued conflict in the world, the number of veterans needing medical care was forecast to grow. At this point the Guest House was once again bursting at the seams and something needed to be done.

VGH 1.0: The original house, known as the Spouse House, served veterans and family members from 1994-2004. It was demolished in 2004 when the need for VGH 2.0 became apparent.
Courtesy photo

Recognizing this need, and our promise to care for Veterans today, tomorrow and in the years to come, we planned, designed and constructed an expansion.

The existing building and the expansion were connected to create one seamless building (VGH 3.0) with over 16,000 square feet of living space. This newly expanded Guest House opened in July 2018 with 33-beds and the ability to provide over 12,000 guest nights a year.

The expanded Guest House has five single rooms to accommodate veterans who are experiencing extensive post-traumatic stress disorder or medical issues requiring private quarters.

All other rooms are semi-private with a shared bathroom. Increased room sizes in the expanded facility allow families more space to stay together, and guests in wheelchairs improved mobility. In addition to the bedrooms, the dining room and kitchen areas have been designed to better meet the needs of our guests.

Year after year, the need grows. We now provide nearly 6,000 nights of lodging annually and have provided nearly 80,000 guest nights since 1994. I can give you more facts and figures, but the people we serve are the heart of this story.

The people we serve are the reason this community so generously supports Veterans Guest House.

Laura’s husband, Paul, is a disabled Vietnam War Veteran who has been in and out of the hospital for the past 15 years. Laura is also a veteran. They live in Yerington, Nevada.

VGH 2.0: The 4,000 sq. ft. home away from home opened in 2004, and originally had 12 beds with an additional 5 beds being added in 2012.
Courtesy photo

For the first three years of Paul’s illness, Laura stayed in an area hotel so she could be close to him. Over those three years, they exhausted every bit of their savings, racked up massive credit card debt and had to declare bankruptcy.

When they found the Guest House twelve years ago, they were broke, unsure how they were going to continue his care and desperate for help. Over the past twelve years, we have provided this family with 1,242 nights of lodging, allowing them to continue his treatment and be together during times of medical need.

Our mission has never wavered. We provide qualified United States military service veterans and their families temporary overnight accommodations while they are receiving treatment at any medical facility in the Reno/Sparks area.

Whether a veteran or an immediate family member needs medical treatment, the Guest House stands ready to remove the burden of lodging from their shoulders.

Veterans Guest House is the only facility of its kind, that we know of, in the country. We are entirely privately funded through the generosity of our community. All funds donated stay right here in the Reno/Sparks area. I want to reiterate that we receive no government funding.

As I reflect on Veterans Guest House’s history and our first 25 years, it is hard to imagine those who so selflessly served our country sleeping in their cars. Every night our Veterans and their family members have a safe, clean, and comfortable bed because of a group of people who didn’t look away when confronted with a need in our community. 

Their passion continues to inspire our team every day, but we do not do this alone. Volunteers, supporters, and our guests are the ones who truly make this house a home.

We invite you to become part of our family through one of the many ways to get involved. To learn more about us, visit http://www.veteransguesthouse.org or give us a call at 775-324-6958 and schedule a tour.  We are very proud of our “Home Away from Home!” Thanks to Plumas Bank for helping us tell our story.

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Noreen Leary is CEO of the Veterans Guest House. Plumas Bank sponsors this content.


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