WALKER COUNTY, Ala (WIAT) – A local nonprofit in Walker County is working to build a veterans village made of tiny homes just outside of Cordova.
Forever and Always Patriots is a not 501c nonprofit group that helps veterans in need. Karla Albertus is one of the groups founders. Albertus says she got the vision to develop a tiny house community for veterans after seeing a similar veterans village 5 years ago online in Texas.
“And there was a village there from Texas. And I looked at it and it was amazing. And I closed my laptop and said God we need this. We need this in Alabama.” said Albertus.
Albertus and other board members of Forever and Always Patriots have since been helping veterans by donating food, clothing, toiletries, and anything else a veteran needs through her store Vapors 4 You off Highway 78 in Sumiton.
“250 homeless veterans between Walker County and Birmingham. Some maybe in halfway houses. But there’s still an awful lot of them that don’t have a roof over their head. And if they don’t have a roof over their head that’s just another veteran that’s been ignored. And it’s a horrible thing. They’ve fought for our country and so much they’ve given us. We’re not doing enough.” said Albertus.
The organization already has one model tiny house nearly complete that they hope to move to the property. Before they can do that, they still need help clearing some of the land, putting in septic tanks, and pouring concrete foundations. Albertus says once that’s done the homes will be built quickly because they already have people willing to volunteer and help that work.
The group depends solely on volunteers and donations, and they do not pay themselves. All donations go towards helping the veterans. Albertus says she’s passionate about helping veterans because she received helped from veteran growing up. She says she was abandoned as a child and lived was taken in by a family. One of the family members was a veteran.
Forever and Always Patriots is planning on building 10 homes. There will be a laundry facility and building that houses a therapist office in the center. Each home will a garden and the village will learn to grow produce. There are also plans for a woodworking shop on the site as well as a mechanic shop so the veterans can contribute and work towards something.
Albertus says there will never be a limit for how long a veteran can stay in a home, but the purpose of the village is to get them back on their feet so they can live happy, healthy, independent lives.
“We want them to enjoy life again. And we want them to be able to feel good about what they’re doing.” said Albertus.
John Sahagun is a veteran and says he believes in what Albertus is doing. Sahagun served in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Army National Guard. He says he understands the struggles veterans face.
“Living in one general area with just veterans, everybody understands each other’s issues,” said Sahagun, “I think that in itself will give them a new direction for their lives instead of being down and feeling sorry for themselves. Veterans will not let another veteran feel that way.”
There are a few upcoming fundraisers to raise money for the village. On Friday, August 24th, the group will be selling dinner and lunch plates from 11:00a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. for $7 each at 325 Highway 78, Sumiton, AL. The plates will be a 3 piece chicken tender plate with cole slaw, French fries, and cake. Call 205-224-7524 with any questions.
There will be another fundraiser on September 15th at the Piggly Wiggly in Dora from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. It will be a car show and everyone is welcome. All donations will go towards helping veterans.