Community help needed as Warren Family Mission gifts veteran a home
The Warren Family Mission is giving one of their staff members a house.
The Warren Family Mission is giving a formerly homeless veteran a home to call his own- but not without some help from the community.
Robert Eckhardt, the recipient of the home, found himself as a patron of the mission less than two years ago.
Eckhardt fell on hard times after being diagnosed with PTSD as part of his military service.
Eckhardt says he served overseas as a javelin gunner for eight years. During that time he was diagnosed with PTSD and struggled with drug abuse to deal with the disease.
Following an "other than honorable" discharge from the military, Eckhardt found it difficult to find work. Eventually, he wound up travelling with an amusement company, despite battling medical fallout from his PTSD medication.
When the amusement company made a stop in Trumbull County, Eckhardt found himself hospitalized. The troupe went on without him, and Eckhardt found himself with nowhere to go.
"The only place that I could go was the Warren Family Mission," said Eckhardt. "Even though I was disabled and wasn't able to work, they still were able to welcome me in and give me a place to stay and food and clothes. And that was such a big help at the time I was able to turn my whole life around."
From there Eckhardt began working as a member of the mission, helping the other men in the program.
"They don't want to listen to someone with book knowledge. If you haven't been through the struggle, they ain't going to really listen to what you have to say," he explains. "Seeing as though I've been through it- I've been in gangs as a child, I've been through the Army, I've been through the drug abuse, and different things like that. That gives somebody somebody to talk to."
Eckhardt says that getting the home is outside of his wildest dream.
"I never thought I'd own a home. Not in a million years did I think that I'd own a place of my own. And I didn't have the means to do that," he said. "I could only dream that I'd own a trailer someday."
But now, knowing he's on the right path and will soon have a home of his own, is a relief.
"It's like a big weight off your shoulders," he explained. "I mean you walk around and you got all these burdens on your back and all these issues going on and bothering you and weighing you down, and when some of that gets relieved off of you you're floating through life, and all the things that you struggled to make happen just seem to come easy to you."
The house, located on Warren's west side, was donated to the Warren Family Mission several months ago.
When they heard it was handicap accessible, they knew it was meant for Eckhardt.
The Mission is working on fixing the house up for Eckhardt with the help of Team Sanders and Colbert Cares.
They've already put in appliances and are working on replacing drywall and flooring in the coming days.
Eddie Colbert, a councilman for the city who works with the Team Sanders group, alongside his wife, to gift a house to a family in need every year, says they were fortunate to find the house in such good condition.
He said the home needs some work, but mainly they're cosmetic upgrades.
However, they weren't planning on having to replace the entire roof.
"First thing's first we have to get the roof and the supplies to fix the roof," said Colbert.
"the Warren Mission they believe that they have the abilities to put the roof on," explained Colbert. "But its coming up with the shingling and the resources to get the roof. So we're going to go out to the community and make some donation requests and see what we can do to be able to get the roof on there."
The Warren Family Mission is hoping the community can help either through donating black shingles, money to purchases bundles of shingles, or even gift cards to hardware stores.
They're also looking for laminate flooring, paint, an A/C condenser and copper piping, as well as materials and volunteers for construction on a handicap accessible ramp with handrails.
Anyone who is interested in making a donation or helping out can contact the Warren Family Mission at 330-394-5437.
The Warren Family Mission has given away more than 30 houses to deserving recipients over the years.