City of Refuge has ambitious plan for new building
Bro. Burt Stigen is a man with a vision. Stigen wants to take care of homeless veterans and provide them with the best living conditions possible.
Guided by the scripture “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you also do for me,” Stigen took his retirement and bought the old Shady Rest Motel property located on old Highway 90 east of Vinton, La. and turned it into a shelter for homeless veterans.
The original motel rooms were used until they began to fall in disrepair. Stigen has raised money through private sources to replace the motel with log cabin type facilities that sleep up to four vets.
The number of residents changes as new ones come in and those already there find a job or some other way to be self sufficient and move away. The problem of living quarters is being well handled, but there is another problem looming on the horizon.
The administration building that houses the office, kitchen, dining area, and chapel is nearly 70 years old and needs to be replaced. Stigen has formed a core group to study the options and costs for replacing the leaky old building.
Saturday, July 30, the group met for the first time. The floor plan of a building 40 x 100 feet to replace the current 31 x 67 foot building was shown to the group.
The new building will be steel framed and built to the standards required to withstand hurricane force winds. Half of the floor space will be dedicated to the dining area which can also be used for other purposes if needed. There will be kitchen space, pantry, mechanical room, and the office.
The cost for the slab and building will approach $100,000. Representatives of the Stark ’64, Veterans Group, American Legion Post 49, Volunteer Christian Builders and interested individuals were present at the meeting. There were pledges of volunteer labor to do anything that needs to be done in the construction of the building.
“There is going to have to be a lot of praying and faith to do this project. There have been some businesses that have pledged to give us some discounts on costs of materials. We have a good start, we need to go to work and make important decisions and start to raise the needed money,” said Stigen. “We rely on God to provide our needs. We are a faith based organization. We do not take any kind of government monies. Things are going to work for us according to God’s plan on His time.”
Larry McCabe, who teaches Sunday School at the COR, is a member of the Volunteer Christian Builders, has been gathering costs for the building, said that when the building is erected that the Builders can come in and frame the inside of the building in one week. McCabe has also accepted the donation of a number of folding chairs and plumbing fixtures from Old First Orange Baptist Church.
Jerry Gatch of the Stark ’64 Veterans Group has his group working on the fundraising part of the project. Gatch is working up a brochure to show the current facilities and the project to be undertaken.
Ben Ivey, who works with Gatch and the Stark Vets, worked up the floor plan and is working with a local building supply company on material costs. Ivey’s father-in-law, Lee LeBlanc, is a master cement finisher and is the major consultant on what needs to be done with the slab and other concrete work.
The next meeting of the core group is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, at 9 a.m. The meeting will be held in the administration building at the COR.
“We invite anyone who may be interested in helping us with this project to attend any of our meetings at any time. We need your prayers and we need your input and help. We have a big project and we need a lot of support,” said Stigen.
The major item to be discussed at the next meeting will be the placement of the new building. One possible location is to the rear of the current building.
The COR is located on the extreme east end of the old highway. From Orange, take the first exit off of I-10. Cross over I-10 and turn left at the intersection of highways 109 and old 90. The COR is located on the left about two miles from the intersection. From the east take the same exit and turn right, then left at the intersection.