March 07, 2018 10:33 PM
Volunteers are now working on what will be Minnesota's first home for women veterans.
Eventually, the Eagle's Healing Nest in Anoka will house up to 28 veterans. The effort is taking shape at the site of the old state mental hospital.
Volunteer Heather Odell of Andover was painting what will soon be a bedroom for a woman veteran. She said she was inspired by her father - Vietnam veteran Dan Ellingson.
"He passed away last year," Odell said. "So I'm doing this in honor of him."
Odell said she'd want to help any vet.
But she really appreciates that this facility will be home to women who have served.
"I think that is awesome," she said. "I think that's kind of a forgotten group."
Eagle's Healing Nest founder Melony Butler said she too is honoring a veteran through her commitment here.
"It's important to me because my step-father served and I made a promise to him," Butler said.
It's a promise that still makes her emotional.
Supervising the work is Tom Wilkinson, an Army veteran who put his own contracting company on hold to see the work to completion here without pay.
"We'll build some walls that are in here, and we'll actually divide this into four different rooms for the women vets to be in," Wilkinson said, pointing out how a larger room would be divided.
"I know women vets myself that are homeless. In the state of Minnesota, there are zero places for them to go to."
Nearly every piece of building material being used, and most of the labor and expertise has been donated.
That includes expertise from companies like M.A. Mortenson, which oversaw the building of U.S. Bank Stadium.
In addition, expensive materials have been donated - including about $250,000 in copper piping for plumbing.
None of the funding for Eagle's Healing Nest comes from taxpayer dollars. Butler calls it "hearts and hands," referring to her volunteers, a group that includes State Senator Jim Abeler, who has donated many hours of his personal time to the project.
The home is expected to be open for vets later this month. And there are open spots for female vets looking for housing.
For more information, call Eagle's Healing Nest at 320-351-6200.
Updated: March 07, 2018 10:33 PM
Created: March 07, 2018 08:36 PM
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