ESCONDIDO — A new veterans facility in Escondido expected to open this month was officially christened last week.
The Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center, 250 N. Ash St., will be a much-needed addition to assisting veterans and low-income families getting back on their feet.
San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts and Interfaith Executive Director Greg Anglea led the ceremony. Also in attendance were Supervisor Bill Horn, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and philanthropist Tom Hawthorne, who donated funds to purchase the building and is the center’s namesake.
Roberts said the center will be a “great asset” to the community and provides an avenue for vets to transition after falling on hard times.
The 10,000 square-foot facility has 32 beds and staff there can begin helping vets on their road to recovery.
“This facility is a lifesaver,” Roberts said.
Of course, there is still work to be done on the fundraising front, he added, as the $3.2 million facility is in need of the final $600,000 to complete its goal. The money will be used to add furniture and other amenities. In addition, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a pair of $150,000 grants to remodel the building.
Interfaith, meanwhile, is the organization providing the assistance to veterans so they can acquire stable incomes and permanent housing. The group currently has three other facilities — two in Escondido and one in Oceanside — offering 144 beds to eligible veterans.
Caitlin Kosec, grants and communication manager with Interfaith, said the facility allows veterans who suffered medical or mental health problems to transition from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital to the resource center. Interfaith operates the program through a contract with the VA.
Clients, meanwhile, have up to 90 days for their initial stay, although it may be longer depending on their condition.
“It’s going to bring a new resource … by providing a safe place where veterans can recuperate from hospital stays,” Kosec said, “as well as homeless non-veterans who are exiting local hospitals.”
Of the 32 beds, Kosec said 20 are reserved for veterans and 12 for non-vets.
However, the mission of the center is to get veterans back on their feet and become productive members of society.
“I think that this new center will allow veterans to really gain self sufficiency and stability and recover from their hospital stays in a more welcoming environment,” Kosec said.
The Recuperative Care Program, meanwhile, is one of five in the country providing those services for veterans. Kosec said the program has trained staff to counsel their clients for a variety of issues from physical ailments to mental health and recovery.
In short, the center allows its clients to start fresh.
“They cannot recover on the streets,” she added. “This center really provides an essential opportunity to have not only have housing, but also have that nursing care during that critical time. They can get back on their feet and exit the program self sufficient with a permanent home.”
The program also sports a 70 percent success rate.
While the clients receive top care, the need for a new building was a priority, Kosec explained. Previously, Interfaith rented apartments to assist its clients, but the new center takes away the cost of rent.
“By building this center, it’s a cost savings to the organization,” she said. “It also centralizes the program to make it stronger. It’s great we finally have this opportunity.”
To donate to the program, visit Interfaith’s website at interfaithservices.org.