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Rochester

Transitional Home for Homeless Female Veterans

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Rochester: Transitional Home for Homeless Female Veterans
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Nearly 200,000 women have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The increase in female veterans means an increase in the number of those who are homeless, but there's a local group working to tackle the issue.

After four years of active service and 15 years in the Army Reserve, Kim Chappel was doing well. Until the economy tanked.

"I experienced three layoffs," said Chappel. "The last two layoffs were very devastating to me."

She ended up living on the streets of Rochester, until she found out about a new place in Avon called Zion House.

"It has provided hope where there was none," said Chappel.

"We're the first transitional living home for homeless female veterans in the state of New York, and the second in the country," said Rev. Kelly Ayer, the director of Zion House.

Zion House provides a safe, supportive home for up to two years.

"We coordinate transportation to the services like medical care, counseling, addiction treatment if they need it," said Ayer. "Jobs even."

Each resident gets a private room.

"There's a kitchen, they can cook," said Ayer. "They're responsible for the cleaning. They can for the most part come and go as they can. So there's a lot of freedom here."

Zion House works with the VA in Canandaigua and has an agreement with Veteran's Outreach Center in Rochester.

"We can have six at any given time," said Ayer. "Right now, we've only had two come through the house, and that's one of the reasons why we're trying to do a big push for advertising."

It's a mission of Zion Episcopal Church, but Ayers says all honorably discharged female veterans are welcome.

"My hope is that they'll come back and mentor the new ladies coming in," said Ayer.

"I would say this has been a lifesaver for me," said Chappel.

Chappel ended up having surgery at the VA hospital over the holidays, something she says wouldn't have happened without Zion House.

"With the assistance of this program and Zion House being here and with that support group really pulled me out," said Chappel. "I don't think I would, like I said it would have been a totally different picture had this place not been here."

Zion House is also starting a peer group for female veterans. The group is going to meet Wednesday nights at 6:30 at Zion Episcopal Church in Avon. If anyone is interested in joining they can call (585) 991-3545.

Zion House Website

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