Degage Ministries honors veterans with annual luncheon
Executive Director, Thelma Ensink, said the event honors patrons, donors and volunteers who have served in the armed forces –- drawing specific attention to the housing crisis many veterans face.
Degage Ministries, a homeless shelter in downtown Grand Rapids, hosted its annual Veteran’s Day luncheon on Friday. The event was held inside Degage Ministries' new community center. Executive Director, Thelma Ensink, said the event honors patrons, donors and volunteers who have served in the armed forces –- drawing specific attention to the housing crisis many veterans face.
“We know that there are nearly 19 million veterans in the U.S. today and we know that someone who has served is 50% more likely to become homeless, so that is something that’s near and dear to us at Degage Ministries. We want to partner to make sure that there is an end to homelessness for veterans. Today is about celebrating them, honoring them and letting them know that we appreciate what they sacrificed," Ensink said.
The event was a community effort, featuring artwork from 5th graders at Rockford Christian Schools and a performance of patriotic tunes from Catholic Central High School’s choir. Before the free BBQ lunch was served, a pinning ceremony honored West Michigan’s veterans.
Among the estimated dozen of veterans pinned was Marvin Price who served in the army from 1973-1975.
“I was pretty gung-ho. My brother had just got drafted, in fact I spent my 18th birthday on my way to boot camp, and it was a great honor," he recalled.
Price admits he didn't receive a warm welcome back after service, telling WGVU he and many were left to fend for themselves both financially and emotionally when re-entering civilian life. Price said things have improved over the years and is appreciative of the honor and resources offered to veterans present day.
“There wasn’t a lot of help for veterans returning home, but now there’s all kinds of programs available to help. I wasn’t getting any help really other than unemployment, but now like I said the people they help you a lot," he said.
When asked how he felt about being honored during the event, Price told WGVU it felt good to be surrounded by his brothers in service.