Weekly Volunteers Spruce Up North County Veterans Center

Every Friday morning, adults with disabilities can be seen beautifying the lawn of North County's veterans center. The Veterans Association of North County is raising funds to open the center for daily use.

Every Friday Morning, Shelly Durham of Vista, volunteers to help clean up the grounds of the Veterans Association of North County building on Mission Avenue in Oceanside.

Along with about a dozen other participants of the Boys & Girls Club’s Real Options for Adults with Disabilities, she collects the cigarette butts, cans and debris that accumulate on the busy Oceanside road.

“It makes me happy here,” she said, adding that her father, a Navy veteran, is glad she is volunteering at VANC. “He’s one of my heroes (since) before I was born.”

But the volunteers’ efforts go beyond aesthetics. The 10,000 square-foot facility is intended to become a physical hub for North County’s 80,000 veterans to find services from more than 30 member organizations and for those groups to hold meetings and grow their memberships, VANC President Chuck Atkinson said. Presently no such facility exists.

The building isn’t being used for day-to-day operations, however, and VANC is working to raise $1.1 million needed to renovate it.

The building’s appearance is being maintained by a volunteer gardener and—since May—the ROADs participants, who also volunteer at and .

The ROAD program began last February and its participants—who take part in daily events—have made considerable gains in their private lives, have made new friends and are happier said Jodi Diamond, Chief Operating officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Oceanside.

“They have a place to go to every day,” she said. “They have people who love them and who care about them.”

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