Small Texas Town Repurposes Old School as a Retreat to Welcome Veterans

by Amy Myers
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A Texas small-town couple has found a way to repurpose an old Campbellton School into a retreat for local veterans.

Initially, Sam and Susie Kotara struggled to find a way to revive the school that was in service during the oil boom in the area. They knew it was a good property, but they couldn’t seem to find an interested buyer.

“I’m not gonna see that building die; things that aren’t used fall apart,” Sam said. “We all have things we don’t need and are just sitting there. There’s someone else that can use it, can do something with it,” Susie said.

Thankfully, they found Vetstrong, a San Antonio-based nonprofit organization. VetStrong then connected the couple with the American GI Forum. Like VetStrong, the Forum is a national veteran outreach program that provides a multitude of services from job search assistance to mental health services to housing and more. The Kotaras ended up donating the property to the American GI Forum.

CEO Sergio Dickerson stated, “the possibilities for the property of about three acres are endless for their organization,” per KSAAT.

“Our desire is to provide a retreat location for veterans to come and improve their condition, give them a home for the future,” Dickerson said.

Retreat Will Serve Veterans as Well as Other Nonprofits and Communities

While the new retreat will primarily serve veterans, Dickerson assured that the property will also be open to other organizations and communities.

Regarding the opportunity to help more veterans, Dickerson said, “If I provide the property free of charge to them, they provide the services and I get the biggest bang for my buck and the vets, the most important people, get all those services for free.”

Hopefully, the multifunctional space will not only provide a safe and nurturing environment for our nation’s heroes but will also encourage more businesses and people to come to the small town.

“I wanted to see something good happen in Campbellton. It’s an old community,” he said.

Already, veterans in the area have responded positively to the school’s new direction. Mark Llamas, a veteran and resident of Campbellton is exuberant about the project.

“It makes me feel good; give the veterans something to do, including me,” Llamas said.

In fact, Llamas even helped construct the building. Back in his teens, he cleaned bricks in exchange for a dollar an hour. Now, Llamas hopes he can offer his services in a different capacity.

“Maybe I can sit at the door and greet the people, welcome them to the big city of Campbellton,” he laughed.

American GI Forum estimated that they will need a total of $1 million for the project.

To donate, you can follow the link here.

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