Veterans find gem in old Fred’s store, work underway for activity center

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A group of investors plans to remodel an old building and use it to help veterans.

The closed down Fred’s in South Augusta will soon have life, but not as a store. Some of the CSRA’s bravest will call the place home and it will improve their quality of life.

“This was the greatest thing that could have ever been told to me because had I known about this back before my husband got into the situation he was, I could have did this and I could have continued to work,” said the wife of a military veteran, Judy Church.

After serving in the military for 20 years, Judy Church told us her husband is now a dependent dealing with Multiple Sclerosis. She said an adult daycare is needed along with places for him to socialize.

“They get to a stage in their life where they just want to give up. He got to that place,” she explained. “Especially when they tell you that they have early dementia or something like that. You want to keep their memories going.”

Church’s husband and other veterans would benefit from the new Veterans Activity Center soon to open on Windsor Spring Road. A group of investors working with the owner of the old Fred’s have a plan to revamp the store into a place where vets can eat, workout, be entertained and gather a lot of resources.

“The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the depression, some of the things they go through are caused by a lack of being involved, a lack of being busy,” said Tommy Ingram, Disable Army Veteran and investor. “I feel personally, if I wasn’t always busy, I’d probably be depressed myself.”

Ingram is spear heading the project that he said will offer suicide prevention, an arts and games area, and a ball room to enjoy live entertainment or watch movies. He’s hoping community members will pay around $15 to offset costs so that those who served can have a free place to enjoy.

Terrance Thomas, a Navy Veteran and local pastor, told us he is investing because those who sacrificed their lives should feel appreciated.

“People don’t know what it looks like for veterans who have gone and fought for their lives and come back and feel like strangers in their own territory,” he said.

Ingram said homeless vets are welcome too.

He stressed that opening the facility in south Augusta was important.

“We’re not going to let this place die and just crumble and fall and not do anything about it,” he said of the area.

Ingram and the group of investors are still working on fixing up the facility. It should be complete by March.

Anyone wanting to help can contact Ingram at 706-306-9849

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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