Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
At the August 2021 Town of Franklin Council meeting, a proclamation was signed by Town of Franklin Mayor Bob Scott designating the week of Sept. 5-11 as Help Homeless Veterans Week. The proclamation basically calls attention to the needs of homeless and “distressed” veterans in the town and surrounding areas.
According to Ned Kraft president of the First Presbyterian Church Men’s Group, the organization has been raising money since 2014 for the effort. In 2018, the group decided to start an “on the counter” program by placing collection containers at area businesses and restaurants to raise money. In 2019, the Men’s Group raised $9,000. Last year, due to COVID-19, the collection containers were not placed, but First Presbyterian Church collected $3,100. Kraft said he has no idea what the 2021 effort will achieve.
“The Town of Franklin knows that there is a need to help homeless Veterans and feels that by proclaiming the second week in September as Help Homeless Veterans Week it will help with the fundraising efforts,” said Kraft. “We have partnered with the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM). Their facilities include transitional housing, one for men and one for women and children.”
In fact, Kraft said that ABCCM helps veterans in 74 counties in North Carolina, including all Western North Carolina counties. He added, “In 2019, there were about 18 veterans in Macon County that needed help, according to ABCCM. Some were homeless and needed housing while others needed help with utilities, rent, transportation, food, health co-pays, child care, and more. We spend the year raising funds to donate to ABCCM.”
Although Kraft is not a veteran, several men in the men’s group are, and he explained they all, collectively, believe in the importance of assisting veterans in need.
Kraft encouraged citizens and visitors alike to look for the collection containers while patronizing area businesses and restaurants.