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Dedication Ceremony Slated For Buddy Smith Home


Posted on May 3, 2012 under News


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The Next Step Day Room will hold a dedication ceremony for the Buddy Smith Home focusing on military veterans facing homelessness on Thursday, May 10th, 2012 at 11 a.m.

 

The dedication ceremony outside the Home at 500 N. 9th St., will include remarks from our guest speaker, Arkansas State Rep. Tracy Pennartz, who serves District 65, which covers the north side of Fort Smith. Pennartz, a U.S. Navy veteran, was first elected as state representative in 2006, after retiring as associate director of Western Arkansas Counseling & Guidance Center following more than 25 years of service.

 

"We are excited to have State Representative Tracy Pennartz speak at our ceremony about our project for homeless veterans," said Next Step Day Room Executive Director Lance Fisher. "She served in the U.S. Navy and has an extensive background in management and consulting in the behavioral healthcare field. Representative Pennartz understands the service our homeless veterans gave to their country and she also understands the mental and physical challenges sometimes facing them when they return home."

 

Other remarks will come from Next Step Day Room Executive Director Lance Fisher and Tim Smith, the son of the late Ralph T. “Buddy” Smith. Tim Smith is also a new board member of the NSDR.

 

The Buddy Smith Home has been named in honor of the late Ralph T. “Buddy” Smith who served in the Pacific through the Army Air Corps. Buddy Smith also believed strongly in helping the less fortunate, including homeless individuals.

 

The majority of the construction costs of the supportive home were covered by Community Development Block Grant funds administered through the City of Fort Smith, an Affordable Housing Grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and a generous donation from the family of Ralph T. "Buddy" Smith. Many other generous donors along with those who sponsored individual bedrooms and furniture packages and overall costs also contributed to make the home a reality.

An informal reception and tours of the building will immediately follow the ceremony. Both the dedication ceremony and the tours are open to the public.   

The Next Step Day Room broke ground on the Buddy Smith Home in June 2011. Larry Hall of Biggerstaff Minden & Hall P.A. (BM&H) completed the architectural design on the two-story, 16-bedroom building. Turnkey Construction Management served as the contractor for the 5,053-square foot building.

Homelessness is a serious challenge for veterans returning from service. Sadly, 20% to 25% of all Americans facing homelessness are military veterans.  Locally, it has been slightly less, ranging from 14% to 16% in 2011.  However, in the first three months of 2012, the Next Step Day Room has seen our homeless veteran population increase to 18 %.

“With the completion of this project, the Fort Smith area will have an important resource in helping our homeless male veterans return “home,” said NSDR Executive Director Lance Fisher.

The home at 500 N. 9th St., will provide supportive housing and a lifestyles program to help veterans get back on their feet. A minimum of ten beds will be dedicated to military veterans with coordinated case management through the Veteran's Administration.

One room will go to a live-in resident assistant, and the rest of the beds there will be available for other homeless men, regardless of veteran status. Residents are required to save 80 percent of their income while living in the home. This will help the individual be able to be prepared for things like utility deposits, rental deposits or transportation once they graduate from the program.

The Next Step Day Room operates a homeless day center, provides case management and referrals for clients and runs three supportive housing units. They are the Esther Home for women and women with children, the Gabriel House for men and now the Buddy Smith Home focusing on male military veterans. To contact the Next Step Day Room, call 782-5433, by website at www.nextstepdayroom.org or by mail at 123 N. 6th St., Suite 200, Fort Smith, AR 72901.


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