Tucked away on Barstow’s namesake road a once neglected home donated to the Army 20-plus years ago now sits as a testament to the strong relationship shared by the local community and its servicemembers.
Known as “The Outreach Center,” the facility officially re-opened its doors following a Sept. 28 ribbon cutting ceremony – one day before the yearly Gold Star Family Day. The final renovated look, largely courtesy of Army Community Services and Home Depot, which provided both the manpower and money to ensure Veterans, their families and Department of Defense civilians could make use of services focused on quality of life improvement.
“The center is designed to provide the type of services our Veterans and families need without them having to travel the nearly 40 miles to Fort Irwin,” said Lori Picard, Irwin’s Survivor Outreach Services coordinator. “We like to think of it as a one-stop shop for everything, from grief counseling to benefit insight, and resume building or job hunting.”
Picard, who is responsible for supporting Gold Star families in more than 190 cities in the surrounding region, said the project has been in the works for several months, with Home Depot stepping up to provide much needed infrastructure help.
“In the last few months we began working closely with Home Depot to make this a reality,” said Picard. “This small community came together as a family to give Veterans a place to go for support. It was definitely a hometown project.”
The 3,000-square-foot building received a makeover worthy of a T.V. episode, with walls rebuilt and repainted, floors redone, and bathrooms reworked, as well as updating lighting fixtures and electrical outlets. The work did not come without monetary investment.
“There were quite a few needs, but our goal was to provide a better facility for grieving spouses, Veterans and other family members – in a home-style, welcoming experience,” said Dave Jensen, a pro-account sales associate at the local Home Depot.
Nearly 100 volunteers from Home Depot stores in Barstow, Apple Valley, Victorville and Northwest Victorville came together with members of the ACS team, family members, contractors and even the city itself to finalize the center.
The center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Wednesdays when it closes at noon.