Shelby man creates free temporary housing for veterans
SHELBY — Lawrence James recently purchased Glacier Motel & RV Park in Shelby. He lets military veterans stay here for free – that’s because he says they’ve already paid.
Self-proclaimed patriot James didn’t serve in the military, but that doesn’t take away from his passion for those who did: “I know the rights I have in this country come from veterans.
Driving through Shelby, he noticed a “for sale by owner” sign on the Glacier Motel, and housing and transportation services for veterans and their spouses – VATSHATS – was born.
Lawrence explained, “The slogan of VATSHATS is, It’s good for America to save the world, but let’s take care of our own first.”
Currently, the property can accommodate up to 14 veterans and their spouses. Ultimately, Lawrence would like to see that number increase to 60.
To pay for this ambitious project, James relies on contributions and sales from his First Amendment Patriot store featuring flags, hats, and bumper stickers that pay tribute to the military, first responders, and more.
And while his conservative values also whip the winds of Hi-Line, he wants to remind people of all political persuasions that this is for veterans.
Lawrence said: “Anyone, any veteran, liberal or conservative, is welcome to stay here. We do not impose our values on anyone. That’s why it’s called the First Amendment Store.
Currently, veterans can stay for up to 28 days. James says anything more would require him to hire additional staff, such as a nurse.
“I’ve made arrangements with the major hotels up and down the street to take our veterans there for a few days. Long enough for the long-term housing period to extend and we bring them back right away,” he said.
James has big plans for the property, including building 10 handicap accessible trailers in the rear RV park.
He also wants to finalize the purchase of four adjoining chalets and a large building that can be used as a kitchen area, games room and living room.
James’ time as a signature collector registering people to vote opened his eyes to the number of homeless veterans: “Across the country, at each of those skid rows, a vast majority of the homeless -shelter on rows of skids are veterans. . And that’s what gave me my niche, that’s my talent.
For more information, click here to visit the VATSHATS website.
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