Veterans thankful for Thanksgiving meal at Las Vegas complex
Las Vegas Review-Journal November 25, 2022
(Tribune News Service) — Cecilia “Lee” Knapp served 12 years in the U.S. Navy. For 13 months, she was in Vietnam. She worked as a medic on the airstrip in Da Nang, she said, and saw some things that still linger in her mind.
“There are memories that show up when I don’t expect them,” said Knapp, 80. “But they’re there and I lived through them and I never thought I’d live to this age. So it’s OK.”
That was essentially the outlook from many of the residents at Hebron, a housing complex on Las Vegas Boulevard just south of Charleston Boulevard that caters to the formerly homeless, while a free Thanksgiving meal was being served to them Thursday.
While many of the 130 or so residents who live at the complex have been through hard times, they’re grateful to be here still, and were thankful for Thursday’s meal and the gift bags that included staples such as socks and underwear that were given to the residents.
Formerly called Veterans Village, the complex houses 42 veterans, said Merideth Spriggs, the founder and chief kindness officer of Caridad, the nonprofit charity that works to help homeless people. The charity leases the property, which is now called Hebron.
“It’s getting harder and harder for people to find rentals, especially with the rental requirements going up,” Spriggs said. “So if you have to have first and last month’s rent and show that you make three times the rent, it’s really hard to find housing right now.”
Knapp has lived in the community since 2015. She was balancing her plate full of food on the seat of her walker, heading back to her unit to enjoy her Thanksgiving meal.
“It’s wonderful,” Knapp said of the meal. She doesn’t drive, and she has Parkinson’s. She says she gets $800 in Social Security and $432 from Veterans Affairs. Her rent is $600 a month. So for her, money is tight.
Had there been no Thanksgiving meals handed out on Thursday, she said, she would have eaten a dinner somehow, but that likely would have been a TV dinner, she said.
Jim Malone, who is on the board of directors of Caridad, said the rising cost of housing is keeping people homeless.
“Unfortunately the statistics are real, and there are more homeless people here and in other major cities than there needs to be,” Malone said. “The housing is unavailable and that’s just through overall cost of housing. People who have housing available choose to get larger rents and there’s not any doors that can be opened.”
Dennis Alexander, 63, said he was homeless for 30 years before moving into Hebron. He served in the U.S. Army and lost his leg from diabetes.
“Well, I’m alive. Good friends I have. I’m thankful for a place to live,” Alexander said.
Bill Monroe, 67, was in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Lebanon.
“I’m very happy and respectful for what they did,” Monroe said. “And grateful because what they did — they took time out of their Thanksgiving to give the people here a good Thanksgiving, and that’s really wonderful. That’s really wonderful that people do that, and look out for people and have each other’s backs.”
Both men were seated at a table under the sunlight eating their plates of turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Later, they said, they would watch football.
Jeffery Hester, 55, and Jerry Asher, 78, also sat together at a table.
“It was very good,” Asher said of the meal. “People are very nice.”
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