Home Depot Foundation volunteers Steven Stewart, Amos Siliga, garden department supervisor Ryan Aagaard, operations manager David Carroll, sales supervisor Victor Moreno, and Oceanside store manager Robert Alejandre stand beside finished fencings and benches. Upgrades were made to veterans’ quarters on Division Street. Photo by Promise Yee
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Volunteers spruce up veterans quarters

OCEANSIDE — One hundred Home Depot Foundation volunteers put in hands-on time to upgrade veterans’ quarters in Oceanside on June 5. 

Veterans Assistance of San Diego, a division of Interfaith Community Services, was awarded a service grant from the foundation to have upgrades completed inside and out of its veterans transitional housing units on Division Street.

The three apartment buildings had 76 sets of blinds replaced, pantries redone and ceiling fans and shelving installed in all 19 units.

Outside landscaping was spruced up, a fence was built and a barbeque was added.

“They’re installing 150 feet of lattice fencing to provide privacy between the facility next door,” Jason Coker, Interfaith Services director of marketing and communications, said.

Coker said once the grant was awarded to Veterans Assistance of San Diego in late May, staff worked with Oceanside and Vista Home Depot store managers to go over specific site improvement needs.

On the day of service renovations began at 6 a.m. and were finished by 3 p.m. by dozens of crews of volunteers.

Cost of labor and materials is estimated to be between $48,000 and $75,000.

“Sometimes prayers do get answered,” Bernard Gabriel, director of Veterans Assistance of San Diego, said.

At the veterans transitional housing facility 72 vets bunk up two to four to an apartment.

The upgrades add a measure of comfort to veterans living at the facility and working toward getting back on their feet.

“It’s all a big way to raise the morale of someone trying to get their life back on track,” Coker said. “They’re showing they care enough to come out. It really helps.”

The veterans assistance program pairs homeless veterans with a case manager who helps them set goals and overcome obstacles.

“We’re dedicated to housing formerly homeless vets,” Coker said. “They get back on track from addiction, joblessness and get trained skills.”

Within 18 months most veterans are able to move out on their own and secure permanent housing.