Good times are returning to the Disabled American Veterans Robert W. Veal Chapter 5 building in Gulfport.|
After Hurricane Katrina peeled back the roof and dumped about four feet of water inside, the DAV at 2600 23rd Ave. was left with more than $150,000 in damage, said Ginni McCann, DAV service officer.
Soon after Katrina, the DAV served the community as a Disaster Recovery Center/SBA loan office and was an American Red Cross meal site. It closed as a DRC/SBA office in August.
And just more than two months ago, on Sept. 9, the lounge reopened. The entertainment lineup includes a deejay on Tuesday and Wednesday and bands on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. McCann said the DAV is open to the public.
After insurance paid $115,000, McCann said, the DAV took out an SBA loan to help cover the repair costs. Many out-of-state volunteers and faith-based groups, college students and members of a DAV chapter in Missouri helped restore the lounge. "Without their help, the lounge would not have been able to open as soon as it did," McCann said. "We wish they could see it now and we are in awe at their work."
However, the DAV still needs the helping hands of volunteers to do work such as painting, cleaning and paving the parking lot. Another focus is getting the bingo hall ready to open by the end of November or the beginning of December.
"We need the bingo up and running so we can pay for the loan starting in February," McCann said. "We are looking for a group that would like to take over daytime bingo."
Bingo also raises money to help the organization support veteran programs in VA medical centers and the state VA nursing home and local community functions.
"We'd like to have some fundraisers," McCann said, "but most people don't know we're open."
- NANCY BOSARGE