SMITHVILLE — Just north of Smithville, off U.S. Highway 169 near Trimble, is a ranch for sale that Debbie Childress of Smithville has been keeping tabs on.
“If you see this place,” Childress said, “it could not be more perfect. It’s like it was built with us in mind.”
Childress is a founder of a new nonprofit, Valor Ranch, an organization with a goal of providing transitional housing to homeless veterans looking to get back on their feet. Recently launched, Valor Ranch’s board of six individuals hopes to raise enough funds to purchase the property off U.S. 169.
“There is a guy downtown that I just keep waiting to go pick up,” Childress said of an act she has imagined over again with plans to bring the act to fruition once she has established a place for him to go.
Once in a location, Valor Ranch will be open to male veterans wanting to re-enter the workforce. An application process for admittance will be put in place that includes a background check. Veterans seeking transitional housing must have been honorably discharged and sober for at least 30 days.
Once the ranch is operational, Childress said she would like to see veterans there with post-traumatic stress disorder enrolled in a partner program to learn good coping mechanisms among other skills to help create a healing foundation for reestablishment of a civilian life.
“I know a lot of people that have dealt with PTSD and now they are very successful,” Childress said. She added many people don’t fully understand what PTSD means for a person and it is manageable if the person learns how to adjust.
Childress also envisions the ranch providing equine and dog therapy and swimming rehabilitation in addition to chores for tenants, a garden, volunteer opportunities and veteran workshops, aimed at job training and teaching needed life skills such as cooking, resume writing and budgeting.
“These are veterans, they were in the military ... they have skills” Childress said. “They aren’t helpless, they’re homeless.”
The goal is to get veterans employment ready within 30 days.
“Working gives people a sense of purpose,” Childress said. “Having a job won’t only help veterans earn money, but will help boost their confidence and self-worth.”
Once they leave the ranch, Childress hopes it’s success stories will return to mentor other veterans.
The organization includes a founders circle of donors willing to commit $10,000 per year for three years. Childress said a couple individuals have made the pledge, but many more are needed.