Veterans Advocates of America set to begin expansion project

Published 4:05 pm Monday, February 22, 2016

Special to The Leader


The Orange County Team No. 1 of Leadership Southeast Texas (LSET) is partnering with the Veterans Advocates of American (VAA) as their 2016 class community service project by providing “sweat equity” and networking assistance in support of the VAA’s office expansion.

The VAA has a 650 square foot expansion under construction to increase available office space. This extra space will allow the VAA to expand services to veterans in a more welcoming environment.  Our veterans are an underserved segment of society and Orange County LSET group welcomes this opportunity to give back to those that have sacrificed in the service of our country.

The OC Team #1 consists of: Orange County Commissioner Pct. 2 Barry Burton, Comptroller, Gerdau Kristen Coyle, Bridge City Middle School Principal Lydia Gonzales, Owner of It’s All About The Mouse Travel Agency Beverley Satir, Plant Manager at DuPont-Sabine River Works Janet Schepcoff, and Project Executive of SpawGlass Construction Jerry Vandervoort.

Pastor Bruce Lockett is the director of the VAA, a non-profit organization which provides services to veterans free of charge, including helping veterans apply for their deserved benefits along with meals, wheelchairs, crutches, clothing and any other supplies donated to the VAA.   Part of the addition will include a full bath for those veterans who are homeless and need a place to shower.

Concerned citizens and Veterans who feel the same way are encouraged to make any type of contribution of “sweat equity” and / or resources to help complete this project which will help change lives.

The Veterans Advocates of America (VAA) started the month off with a substantial contribution of $2,000.00 from The Community Development Education Foundation. This donation will allow the VAA to purchase needed supplies for their office expansion in Vidor. The Community Development Education Foundation is a transportation consulting entity that works with private contractors on infrastructure projects. The group strives to join quality of life issues to planned and sustainable economic development in a community. These efforts have a huge impact on a community and projects like the VAA help develop positive relationships between the contractors and the community.

Not only has the VAA group received a significant monetary donation this month but Sheila and Roger Friedeck, owners of Friedeck’s Nursery on Main Street in Vidor, have committed plants, mulch and bed edging to help finish the project. Brad Childs with Child’s Ace hardware on 16th Street in Orange has generously committed paint and paint supplies to the project. Gulf Coast Electric on Pecos in Beaumont will wire the building, provide fixtures as well as an HVAC unit for the new office. Ritter Lumber has also made a pledge to provide a list of building materials at a deeply discounted rate. In addition to these donations by locally owned businesses, SpawGlass General Contractors will contribute drywall and supplies to finish the interior walls.

The VAA’s goal is to have all material donations secured by February 27, 2016 with construction beginning in early March. A list of needed materials and supplies can be found on the group’s Facebook page: Veterans Advocates of America – Orange County, Texas. Monetary donations are welcome at any time to support the project and can be mailed or dropped off to the VAA at First United Pentecostal Church, Attention Building Fund, 185 Camp St, Vidor, TX 77662.

LSET has been in operation since 1992, with each annual class examining the strengths, weaknesses, obstacles and opportunities for economic development and building regional unity along the way. The organization was incorporated in July 2007 and is governed by a board of directors. A 501 (c) (3) educational, charitable corporation, it is based in the International Safety Training Council (ISTC) facility in Nederland. LSET’s 1,266 members worldwide support all LSET and Y-LSET Youth programming annually. The ultimate benefit of the group’s work, says LSET Executive Director Bessie Chisum, “is an ever-improving quality of life for all of us who call Southeast Texas our home!”

Founded in 2010, the mission of Youth Leadership Program (Y-LSET) is to provide sustainable development of leadership skills in diverse student populations by promoting an understanding between students’ school and regional experiences, coupled with a call to civic action. Approximately 596 students in the 10-county Southeast Texas region have completed the Y-LSET program curriculum. Y-LSET is completely underwritten by LSET regional leaders, organizations and businesses with no fees or cost to participating schools.  For more information about LSET programming and Y-LSET, contact