Veterans Drop-in Center offers safe space to relax, hang out

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Members of the Armed Forces not only look out for each other on the battlefield, but they do it at home, too.

For the last four years, Rockford veterans have been dropping into the Veterans Drop-in Center, at 1539 S. 4th Street.

Monday through Friday, between noon and 6 p.m., the Veterans Drop-in Center gives food and comfort to anyone who comes by.

Service Coordinator Sheila Fleming says it’s ” a place to hang out and visit with people. They come in, they play games, they watch TV. If they need a shower, they can take a shower. We’ll do their laundry if they need it.

Veteran Mike Oberg is grateful for the experience, and said, “We get to visit with each other and share some of our stories.”

A veteran group from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station donated $1,000 to the non-profit.

Chair Don Armbruster said, “After the fact, after you have served your time and you get out of the military, it’s good to still have the same camaraderie with people that know the language, or have a similar experience that you do.”

The Veterans Drop-in Center opened in 2011, and quickly outgrew its original rented space at Shelter Care Ministries’ Jubilee Center, at 218 7th Street.

The Winnebago County Housing Authority donated a home in 2015, but Oberg says it’s beginning to get cramped there, too.

“We need a bigger building,” he said. “I think we got this one given to us. It’s too small, and when we try to get all the guys in here, they don’t all fit, so we need a bigger place.”

Fleming said, “Sometimes, we have people bring dinner in, or an organization or a church, and if they bring, say, five or six people with them to serve too, sometimes we don’t have enough room.”

A new building would have to meet some needs. “We’ve got to be on the bus line, too,” according to Oberg. “We need to be on the bus line so some of the guys can come here if they don’t have any cars.”

Oberg says a bigger facility would mean veterans would have more people to connect with.

“I just like talking to all the guys, and gals, too. We have some ladies that come here, in the Air Force or something.”

Armbruster added, “You definitely have something in common, right before you even know that person’s name.”

The Drop-in Center is always looking for donations. More information can be found here.

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