by Lisa Bicknell, CVT Editor
Trapp Elementary School, once home of the Trapp Eagles, is now being re-purposed as a transitional home for women veterans and their children, says Wanda Martin, Clark County Coordinator for Lady Veterans Connect.
The old Trapp school was empty for a couple of years, but it is getting a fresh coat of paint and is being outfitted with bedrooms, comfortable seating and dining areas, and work areas.
When work on the women’s home is completed, it will be equipped to house 35 women and children and will be the largest women veterans home in the nation.
Women veterans will be participating in a transitional housing program designed to be completed within a year’s time. They will take classes in financial planning, life skills, job preparation and resume writing, as well as restoring relationships. Once participants have completed the program, the goal is to provide them with enough furnishings and household items so they can furnish their own apartment.
Lady Veterans Connect hopes to find churches and civic groups who will host household showers for each woman as they “graduate.”
Trapp Elementary was purchased by Bryan Howard and Allen Taylor after it closed. They contacted Clark CountyRepresentative Donna Mayfield, and one thing led to another until Phyllis Abbott, now the executive director of Lady Veterans Connect, as well as a team of volunteers, got the ball rolling.
Lady Veterans Connect already operates the Thurman-Abbott home in Lexington where three women are living. Abbott is not a veteran herself, but she said she has family members who are, and she has also worked with the homeless population for a long time.
She pointed out that women veterans have a higher risk of suicide and dying on the street than men veterans do.
Many women don’t self-identify as veterans by wearing military apparel, even though they have served in the military, so their needs are often overlooked. And some of them say that because they weren’t on the front lines getting shot at, that they don’t consider themselves veterans.
Martin says she doesn’t have enough words to thank the owners for the work they did in helping the organization obtain the building.Volunteers continue to step up, from individuals to retailers such as Home Depot, who came in to sweep and clean, and Lowe’s, who sent painters to finish some of the walls.
The women’s home is already outfitted with bedrooms, a gym with a beauty station, a large kitchen and a dining area, and a library/technology space. Organizers didn’t want the place to look institutionalized, so school lunchroom tables have been replaced with donated dining rooms sets.
There’s a storage room full of dishes and other items needed for setting up a household. When the women complete the program and are back on their feet, they will be provided with the necessities to start out on their own. Donations of furniture have also been flooding in. “It won’t all be staying here, but it will all be used by veteran’s,” said Martin. “We are thankful for every item that comes through here.”
Last year, a coalition of organizations called Veterans Resources United of Central and Eastern Kentucky (VRUCK) formed to bridge the gap between veterans and the VA. They sought not to “reinvent the wheel,” but to connect women with the services available to them. Martin said that the number of women percentage-wise who are joining the military are growing faster than the men.
The VA will set up a telemedicine center within the home, and patients can talk to counselors and other medical professionals via Skype.
On Saturday, October 7, there will be a “Throwdown” a fundraiser at the former Trapp school to raise money for a heating and air-conditioning system for the building. The coal furnace has to be replaced, and Martin estimates that the new heating system will cost $150,000. The event will happen rain or shine and will last from 6 p.m. to midnight. Admission is five dollars for everyone except veterans and children, who get in free. Food will be available, but guests may bring bring coolers, lawn chairs and blankets. Donnie Isaacs and Take a Break Band, Moonshine Mike and the Taste Testers, Clay Case and other bands and solo artists will be performing.
Anyone interested in donating money, clothing, household items, or furniture may call 859-806-4297.
Photo Caption: Commander Bob Fauste and Adjutant George Kissick of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 94 of Estill County, KY, present a $500 check to Wanda Martin of Lady Veterans Connect to be used for a homeless and rehabilitation shelter for female veterans.