Operation Stand Down celebrates new location
A Copperas Cove-based organization whose mission is helping homeless veterans throughout Central Texas celebrated its newer, larger location in Cove Terrace Shopping Center on Saturday morning.
Operation Stand Down Central Texas, now in its third year, has a 2,400-square foot headquarters, nearly double the size of its previous location in another part of the shopping center and much, much larger than its humble beginnings in Joann Courtland's garage.
“This to me means that the hard work we are doing is recognized, and that people are genuinely interested in what we're trying to do. It's getting people to see that there are people who do need help,” Courtland said of the support coming from the community. She called in the culmination of three years of work.
Courtland and her fellow volunteers welcomed representatives of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, Copperas Cove mayor Frank Seffrood, as well as Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville), Don Nicholas with Congressman Roger Williams' office, along with county commissioner candidates Samuel Thorpe Jr. (precinct 1) and Ray Ashby (precinct 4), as well as supporters from the local community. Representatives from Star Group – Veterans Helping Veterans, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74, and the Women's Army Corps Chapter 94 also attended.
Those present paused for a moment to hold the ribbon cutting, then continued the celebration indoors with refreshments and a chance to tour the facilities. Part of the site serves as a storage area for donated clothing, shoes, outerwear and personal hygiene items. There is now a washer and dryer on site for laundering donated items. Much of the year, OSDCT collects the items donated by individuals and businesses in preparation for the annual Stand Down in October, held at the National Guard Armory in Killeen.
Courtland said OSDCT has regular volunteers, but welcomes more.
“Right now we are open 9:00 to 11:00, Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” Courtland said. “We are trying to expand our hours as best we can.”
Volunteers are needed to help with tasks like sorting through donations and laundering items, for example.
Stephanie Malley, a veteran herself, came to the ribbon cutting after reading about it in the Leader-Press, stating she saw it in the daily community calendar.
“I knew about this group, I knew she had started it in her garage,” Malley said, adding she was interested in the possibility of a she leads called Girls in Action helping out at OSDCT. “We study about missions, worldwide and local. Part of the mission of Jesus Christ is to be local for missions, our 'Judea,' which would be our Copperas Cove. I want to give them as many opportunities with different organizations as we can to volunteer with. If you get them at a young age to volunteer they will do it as an adult.”
Courtland spent time on Saturday, speaking to possible volunteers like Malley and others, about the vision of OSDCT. Her inspiration for this effort came from when her family was stationed in Huntsville, Ala. And she and her mother participated in Operation Stand Down Huntsville, a three-day event.
“(Homeless veterans) were living on the street in a city that prides itself on NASA being there, and technology, that they had this level of homelessness among veterans,” said Courtland. “I thought it was such a good mission.”
At the annual stand down in October, homeless veterans were provided a chance to shower, get a hot meal and a haircut, and were given clothing and hygiene items. Service groups were also on hand to help with any assistance needed for veterans and health screenings. OSDCT is currently planning an April 23 event.
OSDCT is located at 338 Cove Terrace Shopping Center. More information about OSDCT can be found at osdct.org.