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Sarge's Veteran Support Non-Profit's Inspiring Journey and Future Plans

Forks Forum - 4/12/2024

In a recent heartfelt address to the Forks Chamber of Commerce, Cheri Tinker, the Executive Director of Sarge's Veteran Support non-profit, revealed the history and ambitious future plans of the organization, which now spans across Forks, Port Angeles, and Sequim.

The genesis of Sarge's Veteran Support traces back to 2009, when Tinker, then working at FCH-West End Outreach, undertook a homeless count. What she discovered left a mark on her conscience: 77 homeless veterans. "When I went out in the community and did the count I was horrified at how many veterans were living homeless," Tinker recounted. "My family has a history of serving, and we owe them a roof over their heads for having served this country."

Driven by this realization, Tinker approached her boss, Beth Palmer, with a plea to address the issue. With Palmer's encouragement, Palmer told her to go do something about it, Tinker embarked on a mission, spurred further by the support of colleague Ruth King, who told her the same. "So I got online and researched 'how to do a shelter'," Tinker explained.

In 2011, with an appropriation from Senator Patty Murray, Sarge's Place was born. The Peterson Building in Forks was transformed into an 8-bedroom transitional shelter and three 2-bedroom permanent supportive housing apartments. Since then, the organization has provided crucial support to 100s of veterans, inside and outside the walls, offering not just shelter but also essential services through a full-time social worker, case manager, and live-in house manager.

The expansion continued in 2014 with the acquisition of The Outpost in Port Angeles, thanks to a grant from the Department of Commerce Housing Trust Fund. This facility, managed by Peninsula Housing Authority, provides permanent housing for low-income veterans and their families.

In 2015, Sarge's Veteran Support acquired Camp Sol Duc, further expanding its capacity to serve veterans in need. Hobucket House, named in honor of Quileute Veteran Jimmy Hobucket, provides permanent housing for veterans with serious health issues. Hobucket House was founded in 2022 and was funded through the Washington State Department of Commerce Modular Housing Trust Fund for $876,293. The entire build was 1.3 million.

Now, the organization looks towards the future with Minsky Place in Sequim, generously funded by the estate of James Minsky. This facility, slated to open this spring, will cater to elderly or disabled veterans.

To support their ongoing initiatives, a fundraiser is scheduled in Sequim on April 27. It will feature an evening of Veteran stories, program successes, food, drink, and a silent auction.

The Minsky estate has also donated additional funds that have helped pay off Camp Sol Duc and funded much-needed asphalt.

In addition to housing for veterans, the entity also operates the Attic Secondhand store in the old VFW building. Sarge's Veterans Support contributed $75,000, and the Sequim VFW, Sequim American Legion, and Carlsborg VFW contributed $25,000 together to purchase the building. The total was $100,000 which went to the State VFW—purchases made at the Attic benefit veteran programs.

Plans for the future include housing for female veterans, apartment complexes, and dedicated housing for active-duty military members in Port Angeles and Sequim.

As Sarge's Veteran Support continues to grow and evolve, one principle remains unchanged: "We Owe it to them."