A Place To Call Home

Shelter for veterans last chance for many who find themselves on the street

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Christopher had no place to go and had been homeless for about a week when the Rim Country Food Bank mentioned the Veterans Helping Veterans shelter in Payson.

Christopher, who asked that his last name not be used, was recently released from a substance abuse facility and would still be sleeping on the street if he hadn't found the shelter.

Drawing a drag from a cigarette, the lifelong Payson resident said it was extremely tough living on the street for even a week. He has only been at the shelter for a few days.

"It's a good place to get back on your feet if you need it," he said. He likes everything the shelter has to offer.

The shelter was the brainchild of residents Misti Isley and Kay Yeager. Each had been impacted by a family member who was a disabled veteran.

Yeager said her husband died in 1991, and she decided she was not going to sit in a rocking chair and knit.

She said because of what her late husband had gone through, she had a soft spot for veterans.

Isley has a son, Edward Andrews, who is disabled and is one of the mainstays at the shelter.

"I teamed up with Misti, and we started looking for a place," Yeager said.

Isley was a member of the Disabled American Veterans and Yeager was the state commander of the auxiliary.

Both of them sold their homes and put $70,000 each toward the shelter that is located at the intersection of Colcord Road and Wade Lane.

Yeager said the shelter usually has about 20 men. Currently, it has 30 because of the cold weather and the holiday season.

Of the men the shelter serves, 75 percent are veterans, but they receive many homeless people from the Payson Police Department and the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

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The Veterans Helping Veterans shelter usually houses about 20 men. Currently, 30 men are staying there because of the cold weather and the holiday season.

Isley said the shelter provides the homeless and disabled a place to stay, three meals a day, free laundry service and free clothing.

If the people at the shelter are willing and able to work, job training is also available.

"If he has the funds and a way to go to school, we will get them to the college," Isley said.

Yeager said unemployment benefits and food stamps must be delivered to a street address, and they let the men staying at the shelter use that address.

"Everyone in town accepts that address," Yeager said.

Some residents have been calling the shelter home for years.

One man has been calling the shelter home for more than 10 years. Another resident has been living at the shelter for five years.

"People stay here a long time," Isley said. "Where else do you find a place to stay and get three free meals a day?"

Isley said what is disappointing are the people she has had to turn away the past few days because the shelter was full. Some men are sleeping in cots in the dining room.

She said the funding to run the shelter comes from donations -- from the community and from the men who live there.

Isley said there is currently an ongoing fund-raiser for a new roof that is going extremely well.

Yeager said she and Isley are like second moms to the men at the shelter.

"They call us mom," she said. "People in the community know these men are Misti's and Nancy's boys."

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