On Veterans Day, Ralph and Connie Reagan, directors of the Bread of Life Rescue Mission, cut the ribbon and dedicated a six-bed homeless veterans house on Fourth St. near the Bread of Life Rescue Mission.

“This is a project we’ve been working on for years. We wanted to do more for the community and serve this community and for veterans who are struggling. We give the glory to Jesus Christ but I thank all the volunteers of this community. I thank you and God for this day,” Ralph Reagan said.

Reagan said the agency was working to help solve the problem some veterans have transitioning into stable housing after returning from service or having legal issues after being released.

Reagan said a lot of veterans who come back from serving have post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s difficult for them to resume a normal life.

Connie Reagan said, “I pray for all of you and thank you. The Bread of Life is so thankful to have a place in this community. This is a big day in history for the Bread of Life and Crossville.” 

Bill Ward, Cumberland County veterans service officer, explained the program was through the drug treatment court program and the program needed a halfway house.

“They go into a two-year residential treatment program. The closest one right now is in Morgan County. They transition back into society slowly and are given an agenda to follow. This house is an important step in the transition to a program that has a 90% success rate. It’s not a 60- or 90-day program. It takes time. The Bread of Life has been a great resource and I thank you all for what you have done,” Ward said.

Reagan thanked board member Randy York for the idea and the Otto and Kathleen Wheely family for donating the home that was rehabbed. Reagan said volunteers from many area churches have donated their time, materials and talents to the project. 

“The home will offer shelter for veterans transitioning from the streets to stable housing, as well as those coming out of treatment or judicial programs,” Reagan said.

Reagan explained whenever a homeless veteran comes through the justice program, Criminal Court Judge Gary MacKenzie or 13th Judicial District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway will refer them to Bread of Life. The group will work with them until the veterans agency gets them housing.

Larry Doster, Bread of Life Board member, thanked dozens of agencies for participating in a variety of work and donations.

Some of the organizations who donated and volunteered include The U.S. Marine Corps League, Knights of Columbus for purchasing and building beds, The Fantastic Quilters for making quilts, Vietnam Veterans organization, Christ Lutheran Church for drywall and painting, Grace Christian and Plateau Christian Church men’s group for the federal American Disability Act-compliant deck built on the rear of the home, and Lowe’s for building materials and supplies.

“There are many more groups and volunteers and churches who have helped. We know there are more,” Doster said.

Jim Dubro, board member, said they expected the first residents to be in the home around Jan. 1.

Ralph and Connie Reagan’s children Sonya, Tonya and Randal were also thanked for their hours of volunteer dedication and work for the Bread of Life Ministry.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

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