TOMS RIVER – A long journey starts with a few steps.
At the end of the road is Larry’s Home, transitional housing that will be for homeless veterans trying to get back on their feet. Part of that journey took place at Winding River Park, where Just Believe held their first 5K run/walk and 1K run/walk.
Just Believe runs the township’s Code Blue center at Riverwood Park, which opens its doors on nights when temperatures approach freezing. CEO Paul Hulse called the 5K “A beautiful day, a wonderful event to help and support our disenfranchised and homeless. Every step, every breath was focused on raising funds to support our community in need.”
He told this newspaper that the event raised $3,500 for Larry’s Home and that they hope to do another 5K in the future.
“We walk by faith and not by sight,” Hulse said.
Larry’s Home would be named after Hulse’s childhood friend Larry Robertiello. He served two tours in Kuwait and Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served from October of 2001 to July of 2004, reaching the rank of Specialist in the Army and receiving four medals. He worked as a plumber in his civilian life. However, when he got home, he suffered from PTSD and addiction, which claimed his life.
A year-round shelter would be a transitional facility, because the goal is to make them independent. Additionally, having one location gives them the consistency that fosters safety, trust, and a home base for them to get the services they need to get back on their feet.
Several religious and other welfare groups host overnight shelters, filling in the gap in service because Ocean County’s leaders refuse to establish a permanent shelter. Many have explained that it can be paid for by a fund fueled by a $5 fee on every real estate transaction but the County Commissioners said they didn’t want to charge people that.
Hulse thanked the supporters and participants for their help in this endeavor.
For more information, visit JustBelieveInc.org.