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Texas nonprofit group comes to Salisbury to help veterans

SALISBURY — As Home Depot workers hammered, sawed and painted away behind him Wednesday, Kevin Chapman made a declaration.

“What I like to do is to solve problems,” he said. “And the only way to solve them is with one person at a time, one block at a time, one city at a time, one county at a time.”

The ongoing construction behind Chapman was the start of just that as the group worked to upfit a Salisbury home as the future site of Chapman House, a transitional housing operation for as many as 20 local veterans.

Chapman is a recent transplant from Texas, coming to Salisbury in an effort to broaden the impact of his nonprofit work. He began seven years ago in Henderson County, establishing four sites for 12-step rehabilitation programs for drug and alcohol dependency.

“Our success rate at the Chapman House was roughly 35 percent,” he said. “This means that out of every 10 men that came to us, 3.5 became sober. They started to give back to the community instead of take from it.”

But he noticed a trend, he said. Many who enrolled in his program were military veterans.

“These are our veterans that lived to protect our border,” Chapman said. “They deserve credit for everything they’ve done for us.”

So he began creating sites to specifically meet the needs of transient veterans, offering job training, credit counseling and more.

With four sites successfully established, Chapman sold the operation to another nonprofit agency and went in search of another community that needed help.

He eventually reached out to Roger Shiradelly of Mooresville, then chairman of Richard’s Coffee Shop, and his sights turned to Salisbury.

“What we liked is that Salisbury has the (Interstate) 85 corridor,” he said. “We like the fact that there’s a lot of empty buildings here that could be put to good use.”

He said Salisbury’s high poverty rate influenced his decision. And the city is a great place with existing veterans services through the Veterans Affairs hospital.

Chapman raised money for work in a new area, creating Race Track Limos, a NASCAR-themed limousine service with sponsors like Twin Peaks.

With further corporate backing from Home Depot, Chapman and his team have begun constructing the first of what he says will be many similar homes throughout the area.

Work started with the renovation of an East 14th Street home that will house four veterans in need of assistance.

In December, part of the 2-acre property will be cleared for construction of a four-plex, enough to house an additional 16 people.

Joseph Vaughn, director of the Salisbury VA hospital, said Chapman House could meet a pressing need in the area.

He said each area served by Veterans Affairs is offered only so many housing vouchers annually through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program that provides rental assistance to veterans.

“Usually, every one of those is issued out,” said Vaughn. “It’s a very well utilized program.”

He said VA would definitely be interested in forming working relationships with Chapman House once the facility is up and running.

Mayor Al Heggins also sees the potential for collaboration between Chapman House and the city.

“I hoping this will be collaborative, that we’ll continue to have conversations and talk about how we can best use the opportunities that it looks like (Chapman House) … is bringing to us,” Heggins said. “I can’t wait to talk more and to flesh this out and to look at how we can connect these dots.”

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