Jubilee House helps female veterans
February 23, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - It all started as the dream of a woman named Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy veteran and former chaplain who said she was struck by the number of homeless female veterans in the community. In August 2010, Marshall used her savings to buy a small, three bedroom cottage on Langdon Street that she called Jubilee House to house homeless female veterans.
Although the house needed major repairs, Marshall said she knew somehow they would get through the tough times and enlisted the help of local community leaders. She also touched the hearts of the Fort Bragg community.
Enter about 50 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Family Members of Joint Special Operations Command who decided to celebrate Veterans Day that year in an unconventional manner -- by refurbishing Marshall's home. The project was lead by Sgt. Maj. Randy Williams, JSOC, who gathered a team of Families and government civilians. Under his guidance, the team painted, plastered, installed insulation, put up shingles fixed the roof and the chimney, laid flooring, replaced light fixtures and landscaped the garden.
Fast forward a couple of months and the Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office got involved and thought it woud be a good idea to pitch to producers of ABC's Extreme Makeover-Home Edition. To make a long story short, the Jubilee House was chosen to be rebuilt and filmed in July 2011.
With the help of their crew and community support, a newly constructed, 7,200-square-foot house was presented, on the residential block of Langdon Street in August 2011.
"If it wasn't for the Jubilee House and their help and the way they go above and beyond to help you, I wouldn't be where I am today; I mean they do so much," said Rhonda Pounds, former resident of the Jubilee House.
"I think the greatest change has been the whole level of awareness. There are women veterans all around the world who now know that in the City of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg there is a house that is dedicated to the well-being of women veterans," said Marshall.
According to Marshall, she named the Jubilee House after a word from the Old Testament in the Bible, the book of Leviticus, describing "jubilee" as being a time of maturity, a time of coming back, a time of moving forward.
"The Jubilee House, for me, and for a lot of us, is a connection to other women, and is a place for us to go, where we're acknowledged," said Julie Koskey, a 7-year, Air Force veteran, and author of, Let Us Not Grow Weary: 101 Devotions to encourage your soul.
The original Jubilee House measured about 1,500-square-feet, which did not allow for many residents. Almost seven months after the new facility was erected, Marshall, with community support and volunteers, is now able to house more women and children, and offer more resources, such as support groups and classes to encourage these women to once again take control of their lives.
"I like the idea (Barbara) started, the 'get healthy, go forward, give back'. For me, those are things that are literally part of my story. The getting healthy, staying well, keeping everything straight -- body, mind, heart and soul; as well as going forward, not staying in the same position because you can still do a lot. The give back, for me, is not just about giving to the community with money or food, give back to me is to give your voice," said Koskey.
Marshall said there has been an outpouring of community support and raised awareness about women veterans, with organizations, such as local college sororities, various veteran support agencies, and several churches, to include Highland Presbyterian Church. Through donations and other support, Marshall was able to purchase another home to create the Jubilee House II, which currently houses four women veterans.
"When I had a friend who didn't have much, Barbara said to bring her in, and she gave her food to help her out. It's that type of person you only get once in your life, and when you do, you don't get rid of them; they're like your true friends," said Pounds.
"I want the world to know that women veterans are some of the most powerful people you will ever meet. Like any group who has ever served their country and their nation, we have our challenges ..., we have our situations to overcome, but a woman veteran is one of the most determined people when it comes to turning situations around," said Marshall.
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating, or in need of assistance, can call the Jubilee House at 779-2110, visit them on Facebook, or simply show up at their door on 120 Langdon St. or 1606 Gilmore St. in Fayetteville.