Kentucky’s first long-term transitional home for women veterans is now a reality. In a state with 328,000 veterans, some 24,000 are women. As the number of women veterans doubles over the next three to five years, the new Thurman-Abbott Home for Lady Veterans in Lexington will help bridge the gap for lady veterans, according to a report on the AARP Kentucky website.
The Rev. Jim Thurman of Shiloh Baptist Church, a veteran and volunteer at AARP Kentucky, played a key role in the success of the Lexington project which bears his name. Thurman said it all began with “one phone call” from long-time friend, Phyllis Abbott, founder of Sheppard’s Hands.
Executive Directors of Lady Veterans Hands for Hope, Abbott and Sherry Whitworth, are merging their organizations. Sheppard’s Hands and Lady Vets Connect will become one new non-profit, Lady Veterans Hands for Hope. They hope that the success of this first home in Lexington will lead to other similar homes across Kentucky.
Abbott and Whitworth both serve on a state advisory committee focused on female veterans with the Kentucky Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The department is helping to identify women in need of services. More work is underway on a 20,000 square foot facility in Clark County which will house up to 30 veterans.
Thurman donated the house, and volunteers working with local businesses completed the renovations. The newly formed non-profit, Lady Veterans Hands for Hope, opened the home’s doors on July 1. It has the capacity to serve up to four veterans.
For Thurman, serving the needs of veterans has always been a priority. “The only contribution that I can make to her work is a small thing compared to what she is going to do in the future,” said Thurman. He is also Kentucky’s first male veteran of the year and serving as the Kentucky State Commander of the National Association for Black Veterans.
Four previously homeless women veterans will live in the home while receiving specialized counseling and training to help them get back on their feet. In addition to housing, the veterans will receive resources in life skills, financial literacy, mental health, and job placement services.
The ribbon cutting and official opening in Lexington drew a large crowd of supporters. Joining the celebration were local volunteers, other veteran organizations, the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, and elected officials Representative Andy Barr, state Senators Albert Robinson and Reginald Thomas, and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.