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New Center to Serve Vets, Homeless in Crisis

vets, homeless Three Oaks

Three Oaks Multi-Purpose Building was both a long time coming and an overnight success. Regardless of which it was, it is now open for business at 46907 Lei Drive, Lexington Park, MD, next door to the anchor facility of Three Oaks Center.

On Flag Day, June 14, 2016, the ribbon was cut for the building, which houses the Three Oaks Veterans Resource Center and six crisis beds including two hospital beds.

“In a small way this is about the building,” Lanny Lancaster, executive director of Three Oaks, said. “In a larger way it is about the services. Crisis care. Health care for the homeless. This is emerging acrss the nation. We saw it in Baltimore, and it was good. Now we’re the second in the state.”

Patti Brady, a board member of Three Oaks Center and among the driving forces of the completion of the facility from conceptualization to ribbon cutting in 15 months, explained the need for the hospital beds as available for someone released from the hospital without a home and without the need for a care center but still needing assistance.

“MetStar will call us, and we’ll work together and make sure they have a place to go,” Ms. Brady said of the partnership with MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown that made the palliative care facility available when a patient is “discharged and has no where to go. We make sure they have a place to spend the night or a couple of nights, until they’re ready to get back on their feet.”

Two hospital beds and monitor equipment and “nurses will be available to come in and out through night,” she said. “And we’ll have somebody here all night with them.”

The facility also will serve as the new intake location for the WARM program, a coalition of area churches providing shelter for 25 to 30 homeless people from November to the end of March. The new building will be the staging area for participants to catch the bus, and including the two hospital beds, can make room for six crisis beds if the churches fill up.

The shared use also has included space for a washer and dryer for homeless people, a handicap accessible bathroom for the MedStar patients and WARM program participants, as well as a couch, television, and some information booklets.

Additionally, this new building will house the Three Oaks Veterans Resource Center, and it was this long-awaited central location for one-stop veteran center that drew a bulk of attention at the ribbon cutting.

“When I came [to Three Oaks] in 1998, I realized right away the number of vets in the system. Four years ago we got the resources” to begin seriously addressing veterans’ homelessness, Mr. Lancaster said. “I am blessed with a board [of directors] who say, ‘Go for it.’ and truly get behind it. And with a staff … [so] supportive, caring and excited.” Mr. Lancaster hesitated to name one, except in the case of Ruben Berry, a man who came to Three Oaks initially as a client “and never left.”

Mr. Berry is now on staff and is the facilities superintendent at Three Oaks.

RADM Paul Sohl, commander of AIR 6.0 at Naval Air Systems Command, echoed others in praising Ms. Brady and for raising his awareness of the need.

“I don’t understand. How do we have veterans who are homeless? I didn’t understand,”  RADM Sohl said.

But as his understanding grew, he grew to admire Three Oaks’ motto ‘So that no one has to be homeless.’ And praised the local effort that had built the facility. “You’ve accomplished in months what would take a large agency years.”

“I was humbled because everyone said yes,” Ms. Brady said of the military, community, state, and local support that coalesced to complete the center. “So now work begins helping our veterans.”

To learn more about Three Oaks Center, visit its Leader Member Page.

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