Kimberly Kerr, SNJ Today Reporter
“CLAYTON, N.J. – A local organization is celebrating a big day as they get digging on a project seven years in the making.
An open plot of land in Gloucester County will soon be home to Camp Salute.
“The concept is a community of veterans,” said Allan Connors, a Vietnam veteran and community relations representative for People for People. “That means disabled veterans workforce veterans, senior veterans, Gold Star parents. The model was comprehensive, that means housing, services, and community investment.”
People for People, an organization geared to helping families and veterans in the area, officially broke ground on the project seven years in the making.
“Our veterans have done so much for us, they’ve given us so much,” said Steve Sweeney, New Jersey State Senate President. “It’s not much to ask to make sure that the veterans have a safe place to live.”
“It gives them a safe, affordable place to live,” said Bernadette Blackstock, president, and CEO of People for People.
“It gives them a community where the next door neighbor understands the trials and tribulations that they went through when they served and it just gives them a sense of family.”
“Nothing comes close to the bond one veteran feels for another. Many veterans will not communicate well and they’re reluctant to communicate except for with another veteran,” said Connors.
The 76-unit affordable housing development with a veteran preference in Clayton has already set aside 25 percent of the units for disabled vets.
“This is a great day of celebration and we’re celebrating the fact that we’re going to help lift veterans who lifted this country on their shoulders,” said Sweeney.
On top of the housing, the space will have other resources for the veterans.
“We will have what’s called the South Jersey Veteran Resource Center,” said Blackstock. “That center will have the ability to help veterans from the time of claim through appeal if necessary.”
Along with other staff agencies ready and willing to help vets.
“Hopefully we can replicate this in other places because it’s needed, it’s greatly needed,” said Sweeney.
People for People is hoping to have the entire 76-unit development move-in ready by Fall 2018 to help give veterans a safe, affordable place to call home.”