In 14 months, the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center in Little River has helped 14 veterans and spouses readjust their lives. Kris Tourtellotte, founder and volunteer director of the center, describes the 14 as graduates of the center’s re-integration program, Hutton House.
The 14 graduates “are more than we expected, actually,” Tourtellotte said in an interview at the center on Highway 57 in the Steven’s Crossroads neighborhood. The first participants in the program started in July 2015 and have stayed on average three to four months before moving on to employment and housing. Currently, the program has one man, enrolled at Horry Georgetown Technical College.
It’s another success story of the center that started in May 2009. Tourtellotte, a Vietnam veteran, as is his sidekick Bill Matthews, had experience in a re-integration program in upstate New York. “Turtle” started the center in a rented house off U.S. 17 in Little River, with the help of individuals like Matthews and an outpouring of support from the community.
Veterans organizations such as American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts continue to support the center, as do businesses, service clubs and individuals. “Unbelievable” is Turtle’s word for the community support. A couple of months ago, the center expanded its parking area. Soon after the concrete hardened, the Newcomers Club of the Grand Strand contributed $6,548.
Recently, when Matthews was away, veterans were helped with rent payments and vehicle repair, costing about $1,800. When Matthews returned, 11 checks of donations totaled $2,000. In 2015, “a banner year,” a family donated $35,000, which paid off the mortgage on the center’s building.
Several things came together for a veteran in Little River. Monarch Roofing will replace the entire roof on his home. “We also let him know that Home Depot will be coming soon to repair all the damages from the leaks, along with a new fence and deck repairs. We also found out that our partner, Embrace Hospice, will care for his wife, including home visits.” In addition, Tee Off for Veterans paid the veteran’s electric bill. “Quite a morning for this vet and for those of us that work together for the veterans,” Turtle said.
The third Veterans Stand Down is set Sept. 23 at the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Market Commons. Tourtellotte says he’s been involved with stand downs in larger cities that have drawn a small number of homeless veterans. The first one in Myrtle Beach served 135 veterans and the second event a few more. Sponsors are hoping for 150 on Sept. 23. Volunteers and vendors providing services are being limited this year and no more are needed.
In addition to the Welcome Home Center, sponsors include the MOAA (Military Officers Association of America), AARP, Department of Veterans Affairs, Combat Vets Association, Elks, and Little River Medical Center. The community support of the stand downs mirrors the impressive backing of the Little River center.
How to Help
Businesses, service clubs, individuals and veterans organizations have supported the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center since its founding seven years ago. Visit the center’s website or mail checks to:
Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center
421 South Highway 57
Little River, SC 29566
Phone | 843-427-4568
Hours | 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Monday-Thursday
8 a.m. - noon Friday