Earlier this year, a group of Texas Woman’s University students helped apply for a Home Depot grant to create a veteran’s center on campus.
They even made a video for the project.
When the grant application was turned down, Amy O’Keefe, director of commuter and nontraditional student services, saw it as a teachable moment. The center had been in her strategic plan for years.
“I told the students at the time — they were so disappointed — that [Home Depot] only gave out 10 grants across the entire country,” she said. “I told them, ‘I promise you your efforts won’t be wasted.’”
Those students will now be able to see the project to completion.
Jason Weir, owner of 5W Collision Repair, has donated $7,000 to get the job done. Weir and his wife donate a portion of their company profits every month to local nonprofits, and decided to completely fund this project as well as donate another $3,000 to the VFW.
“Normally we give 50 percent to a veterans group and 50 percent to a woman’s group, but we decided this month we would hit two birds with one stone — giving to TWU, which is mainly a school for women, and also veterans,” Weir said.
Seeds of the donation got planted by chance when a university staff member got her car repaired at the shop. She talked with Weir, who explained the business model of giving back, and she told him about the veteran’s center project. Since O’Keefe already had the plans and costs estimated from the grant application, it was easy to coordinate.
The center will be in a few offices in Jones Hall, and have study and meeting space for veterans, complete with furnishings and accessories like a coffee maker.
The project will begin in the coming weeks, and open for the fall semester on Sept. 3, O’Keefe said.
The space is important because when veterans enter college, the two biggest obstacles they face is transitioning from military to student life, and the feelings of isolation, she said. With this type of space, there will be a more intimate study space and a safe place to have meetings or tutoring that isn’t overwhelming.
“For women, we’re finding especially that their peers don’t necessarily understand the military experience, so to have a space that is just theirs is really important,” O’Keefe said. “We’re super excited we’re going to be able to make that happen now.”