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Homeless Triad Veteran Gets Keys to New Home

Homes 4 Our Heroes hit a milestone two years in the making Thursday, as it handed over the keys to a homeless veteran.
Formerly homeless veteran Solomon Gore walked into his new house for the first time Thursday.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Formerly homeless Vietnam veteran Solomon Gore stepped into his new house for the first time Thursday, marking a milestone made possible by two years of efforts from the Homes 4 Our Heroes project.

"Boy, this is a blessing right here. This is a blessing right here. I love the paint job, I love the walls…I love the neatness of it, and these hardwood floors! I'm gon' live like a king! That's all I can say," Gore said excitedly as he saw his house for the first time.

Gore's house is one of two units in a duplex -- one of five condemned duplexes on Cameron Avenue purchased by Whole Man Ministries of Winston-Salem in 2013.

Whole Man Ministries established Homes 4 Our Heroes after recognizing the problem of veteran homelessness in Winston-Salem. Homes 4 Our Heroes' objective is to provide housing to homeless veterans through a step-by-step selection and guidance process.

"There's a lot of resources available. Veterans feel though as it takes a long process to get to it. Some of the bureaucracy that is involved in actually receiving those programs…they pretty much need someone to walk them through the steps," said Reverend Kenneth Holly with Whole Man Ministries.

After two years of setbacks -- including rotted floor joists and lead abatement -- Whole Man Ministries finished refurbishing Gore's duplex this month, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, dozens of churches and several corporations -- including BB&T, Home Depot and Wells Fargo.

"We came in and started this over 20 months ago. This is where we are today. We have one of the units that's completed; it's awesome, we're excited, and we're just happy that we finally got to this day," said Pastor Camilla Washington, whose husband Pastor Barry Washington spearheaded the project.

Gore served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War from 1969 to 1971. For the past year, he has been homeless -- seeking shelter in a dilapidated apartment and using a lamp, mini refrigerator and crock pot to survive. He said his pride is what prevented him from reaching out for help.

Project housing coordinator Gerald Green said, "Thanks to the media, (nods at me) this program has been widely publicized. And his family heard about it, and they contacted Whole Man Ministries. They told us about his situation, about him being "burned out" and being homeless for over a year and living in not-so-good conditions."

Green said the key to helping homeless veterans is guiding them through the process toward self-sustainability.

"We don't just point them that direction. We walk with them. So, it's one thing to tell them hey you go do this and do that, and this may work out for you. It's another thing to actually walk through the process with them, to go to these meetings with them, to contact people for them and say listen, we've done this for you…how do you feel…keep them informed throughout the process."

Gore said, "I feel like I am in HEAVEN. I really feel like I'm in Heaven. And I feel like shoutin', really. It's a blessin'. Whole Man Ministries. They the ones that paved this road for me. And I just can't thank them enough. They was a blessing to me."

Whole Man Ministries is in need of more volunteers and donations to finish refurbishing the other four Cameron Avenue houses by July. The organization also is seeking a volunteer plumber. Contact 336-785-2080 to help with the project.

Register for the second annual Homes 4 Our Heroes 5K, scheduled for June 20, 2015.


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