Q&A with Shirelle Eichelberger
Occupation: Retired Air Force, student
Q: You’re organizing a way to honor — and help — vets this Veterans Day. What are you doing?
A: I’m inviting people to sample a little bit of a homeless shelter experience and learn how they can help homeless veterans, especially female veterans. Those of us who have homes and a roof over our head can never really know what it’s like being homeless, but we can get an idea. We want to help people learn about their situations and see how they can play a part to help.
Q: What’s your event called? And where and when is it?
A: We’re calling it No Roof City and it’s Nov. 10 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the VFW at 1011 Corder Rd. in Warner Robins. Veterans Day is actually Nov. 11, but we’re doing this on the 10th.
Q: Who is we?
A: I’m a student at Hope Seminary in Warner Robins and part of a group of students known as Called2Serve who are working on this and related projects.
Q: This is an educational and fundraising event, right? Who benefits?
A: It is. We want to let people know about problems and solutions. All proceeds, including the $10 donation to attend and any one-time gifts or support pledges, go directly to a local organization called Genesis Joy House. It’s a charitable organization presently restoring facilities and opening a shelter in Warner Robins to house and provide a 90 to 120-day program to help homeless women vets face all the challenges in their lives and get back on their feet.
Q: What’s your connection to Genesis Joy House and this problem?
A: A member of our team knew about Genesis and suggested we help. I’m a woman veteran myself, so it struck home. I’m fortunate to have a husband who loves and provides for me and our six children, but I really get how things could be different. Any of us, for all kinds of reasons, could find ourselves in a bad situation. Add to that the problem of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems.
Q: What branch did you serve?
A: Air Force. I’m one of the ones who raised their hand and said I’ll serve and defend our country. Now I’m one of the ones raising my hand again saying I want to help others who did the same and find themselves in trouble. I’m hoping a lot of people will join me
Q: Where do things stand with Genesis Joy House being able to actually house women?
A: They’re saying one house will be open by the end of December and they’ll be able to take in four women veterans. They’re already providing help, but they’ll be able to house women for the first time and that’s their goal. As more of the facility at 501 Marshall Ave. is restored they’ll take in more. There are several buildings and apartments on the property.
Q: All needing restoration?
A: Definitely, and they’re doing it in phases. Genesis needs donations for projects and ongoing support for sustainability but they also need skilled volunteers to help with restoration. Individuals and groups. People are helping now and that’s why they can take women in soon, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
Q: You said admission is a $10 donation. Do people have to get tickets in advance to attend?
A: You can register in advance at eventbright.com. Search No Roof City. Early registration obviously helps us, but you can register at the door as long as there is space. And children under 10 only need a $6 donation.
Q: So what will the evening be like?
A: We’re asking people to bring a blanket or sleeping bag to help create the atmosphere, but you’ll be wrapped in it in your seat; you won’t have to be on the floor. We’ll present information, provide entertainment, there will be door prizes and we’ll serve bag meals. There will be an opportunity to give and sign up to volunteer in different ways.
It will be a fun evening even though we want to help people tune in to the problems of people right around us. You know that lady you see out and about may not be heading back home to a house like you or I, but maybe she’s sleeping in her car or even in the woods. You’d be surprised the number who are. That’s pretty desperate and not everybody who’s homeless is in that situation. They may be in a motel or with someone for brief periods of time, but they all need our help.
Part of Genesis’ goal is to reach out to these women because you know a lot of vets are proud and trying to do it on their own. But they need our help.
Q: You mentioned other projects?
A: In early December we are putting together plans for a banquet called Camo to Pearls. It will be a dress-up banquet to support Genesis.
Q: How can people find out more about your group, your efforts and about Genesis Joy House?
A: There’s information at eventbright.com on our No Roof City page, and you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Genesis Joy House’s website is at www.genesisjoyhouse.org. We’d love families, business owners, organizations, pastors and church members to come and bring a group.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.