Expanding the Veterans Drop-In Center in Rockford

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A local center is on a mission to expand support to the men and women who have served this country.

Robert Dolin remembers serving as a marine in the Vietnam War.

"Mamasans working in the laundry, putting grenades in the pants in the daytime and then they were shooting at you at night."

Dolin says the Veterans Drop-In Center in downtown Rockford is helping him cope decades later.

"It takes a lot of stress off and believe me stress can get you down," says Dolin.

Veterans get free meals, companionship and entertainment. The center offers some fun activities like guitar lessons for beginners, to help vets have fun, something we may take for granted.

"These guys don't have this stuff, you know a television, some place you can go watch TV. I just go home to do that, they have to come here to do that," says Jeremy Ramsey, an Army veteran and board member for the Veterans Drop-In Center.

Ramsey says the goal is to expand the center into its own building, to expand hours and provide more resources.

"Get them more prepared for job interviews, job skills," explains Ramsey.

"We have housing assistance for the vets who come out who are homeless you know there's a lot of females who are homeless with their kids," says Stacey Ritchie, a marine veteran and volunteer.

The drop-in is helping connect veterans with any service they may need.

"And I think we can do a lot more for more veterans out there," says Ramsey.

The Veterans Drop-In Center is open Monday-Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Everything is free, you just need proof that you're a vet, like your VA ID card or your DD-214.

If you're interested in donating you can mail donations to:
Veterans Drop-In Center
7625 Owl Trail
Rockford, IL 61114

If you have questions about donations, volunteering or upcoming fundraisers, contact Pat Ambrose at 815-713-8843.

Dozens of veterans gather into the building at 413 North Court Street to hang out and grab a meal, but the goal is to offer more services.

The Veterans Drop-In Center is open Monday through Friday with dinner provided every night. There is also a TV/Lounge area, a pool table and some fun activities like guitar lessons, massages, and Tai Chi lessons. It all sounds like fun, but the goal is to offer more things like GED classes and help finding jobs.

In order to provide more resources, the center needs a larger building. They’re currently looking but need more money to buy a building. The center depends on donations to survive.

The veteran’s drop-in center opens at 4:30 every afternoon and stays open until 7:30 p.m.

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