FORT SILL, Okla. (May 23, 2013) -- Soldiers are instilled with a willingness to serve from the time they swear an oath to defend their country.

They make sacrifices to protect their families and friends, the men and women to their left and right and honor those who have served before them.

Sacrifices often means giving up something voluntarily and one Fort Sill noncommissioned officer does so, in part, because she can remember when she had nothing to give.

Staff Sgt. Laquita Robinson, a native of Michigan, knows what it is like to be homeless. Robinson and her children had to stay in shelters during the hard times she had before joining the Army. Robinson's friends finally took her and her children in, until she could get back on her feet.

Now, the A Company, 168th Brigade Support Battalion NCO volunteers at the Carter Crane Emergency Homeless Shelter in Lawton giving back to people she can relate to. For about three weeks she volunteers around six to seven hours at the shelter and helps out wherever needed.

Often, she doesn't go alone either. Robinson takes her children along to help out and to teach them to appreciate the things they have.

"I tell them they may have a little but even their little somebody else does not have," said Robinson.

Even though she is already doing her part for her country and has made sacrifices, it shows by her actions that she lives the tenant of selfless service.

"Being homeless, having a good heart and wanting to help people is what fueled me to get involved at homeless shelters," said Robinson.

"I believe going out to the shelter and helping the people there is a way for me to give back to my community," she said.

Although someone might be homeless, Robinson said that doesn't mean people cannot learn something from them.

"Volunteering at the shelters has taught me how to be more humble and to appreciate the things that I have in life," she said.

Robinson is trying to get it to where her battalion will go help out around the shelter every quarter.

"The people at the shelter are just like you and me, they just had some hard times in their lives," said Robinson. "We all could end up in that situation at some point."

Visiting the shelter Robinson talked with veterans staying there. Some of them said they had made the right decisions in life but they just ended up in a bad situation.

"I think that everyone should at least take the opportunity to go and talk to someone at the shelter and you may find out that everyone has hard times and that some people just need someone to talk to," said Robinson.

The shelter was established in 1985 by Marilyn Crane, in memory of her husband, Carter. It is a warm, comfortable, and safe haven for homeless people.

The shelter is the only local facility where clients can stay for a period up to six weeks. It offers a home-like environment and provides residents with strong supportive advocacy-oriented case management services to assist them in finding employment, permanent housing or education benefits. The facility offers a network of other resources designed to empower homeless people to achieve their life goals and become productive community members.

The shelter provides individuals with housing, basic hygiene items, transportation and case management services, said Sarah Head, the shelter's director. It can house about 25 individuals.

"We are classified as an emergency shelter program which means a client can only stay up to 90 days here," she said. "But the shelter does have a six-week program that helps people get back on their feet by helping them find jobs and a place to live.

Head added the advocacy program works so well because many of the people who come to the shelter have the right frame of mind and willingness to work hard and get their lives back in order.

The shelter is running with two full-time staff members, and a part-timer who works evenings. Should the shelter add staff members, Head said the increase could allow them to support their clients better and provide more one-on-one assistance.

She added a lot of the items the shelter receives comes from donations. People can donate clothes, food or pretty much any household item.

The shelter is located at 1203 SW Texas Ave. in Lawton, and it will accept donations. People can also donate on post at the 168th Brigade Support Battalion. For more information or to donate call the shelter at 580-248-0936 or the 168th BSB at 580-442-3801.

Page last updated Thu May 23rd, 2013 at 00:00