MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota veterans organization is on a mission to end homelessness among service members by finding them a Home for the Holidays. It takes the combined efforts of the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans’ staff, community partners and dedicated counselors to stick with veterans as they make the transition to having a place to call their own.

Kirk Jones will tell you a cup of coffee taste best when it’s brewed and drank in your own place. The Army veteran is happy to have a home at Veterans East. He landed there with the help of MACV.

READ MORE: MACV Pairs With Metro Transit To Help Move Veterans In Need From Light Rail To Housing

Jones needed help shortly after arriving in the Twin Cities from Florida.

“I was actually going to try and come up here and snag myself a culinary degree,” he said.

His plan fell apart, and he ended up in need of a place to lay his head.

“I went to the hotel and spent up the little $1,200 that I had and then I had no choice but to go,” he said. “And for me that was the first time I had been in a shelter ever in my life.”

Jones appreciated what the shelter had to offer but he knew it wasn’t a permanent fix. Fortunately, MACV was already working to get him the help he needed.

Jones resisted help from MACV, and decided working a temporary job was his path to a permanent home. What it did was extend his time in the shelter.

“There have been times when I didn’t make the cut. They were out of beds. There were times when I worked late and then there were times when I didn’t want to go in there. And I said, you know what, tonight is one of those nights I want to feel free,” he said. “You pay the price of having to ride the train all night long, or ride the 5, or go out there and stay at the Mall of America and sit out there in the section until the buses start running again. Sure, I have.”

READ MORE: MACV StandDown Gives Hope To Veterans In Need At Target Field

It got so bad, Jones came close to giving up.

“I was down and out I had actually thrown in the towel because I couldn’t believe in all that I had went through. I was right at that door,” he said.

But MACV was on the other side of that door, prepared to usher him into a new beginning.

“Without that man, I’d probably still be trying to figure it out. Taking me out to that home gave me a chance to figure a game plan out,” he said.

Living in the transitional home gave Jones the security he needed to focus on living independently.

“They said, slow it down. We are not in any rush here, we’re going to get you where you need to get to. But what were concentrating on is when you get out there you stay out there,” he said.

Now he is on his own and working towards landing a job that gives back to the veteran community.

To donate to our Home for the Holidays drive, click here. The Bayport American Legion 291 will match all donations up to $10,000.

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Reg Chapman