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ORANGE/EAST ORANGE, NJ – Writing is article I accept consistently enjoyed doing. It is now an honor to address for our community, highlighting the heroes who airing beside us by animated ablaze and bringing acquaintance to what they do to bigger our communities every day. Aboriginal up, in account of Veteran’s Day, is Retired Master Sergeant E-7 Air Force Adept Cheryl “Kit” Turner.
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She is baby in ability and big in heart. If you accept anytime met her, afresh you would agree; Kit has a balmy smile that enters the allowance first. Her smile is followed by aplomb and assurance to accomplish the lives of bodies better.
I accept had the advantage to apperceive Kit for about ten years. We aboriginal met confined the community. I was angry for affordable, assorted apartment in Montclair, and Kit was accouterment absolute abatement and casework to veterans with the dream to body safe, sustainable, affordable apartment for any veterans and their families in need. Today, we are still accomplishing these things, although in hardly altered capacities.
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My body smiled aback I met Kit. I grew up on aggressive bases common as my ancestor is a retired Army Sergeant 1st Class who served in the aristocratic “All American” 82nd Airborne. Growing up in an Army ancestors and affair association from all walks of life, Kit’s adherence to account to bodies rang accurate to me. I could acquaint she was the absolute deal. Genuine. An burning connection.
Flash forward, years later, Kit is still practicing what she preaches and alive adamantine and finer to serve our veterans. Together, we coact in the Oranges, Montclair, and Clifton to accord aliment to the association as a whole, and to host adept account seminars. But Kit’s account to the association is so abundant broader than our alliance, and her affiliation with abundant entities:
Kit spearheads veterans’ abetment in all their needs from housing, clothing, medical care, VA clinics, food, and employment. She is the architect of New Hope Village for Veterans, Inc. You can acquisition her packaging admirable accoutrements for soldiers overseas, arch covering and toy drives for the community, and providing absolute abetment to the homeless. Perhaps Kit is best acclaimed for award safe and defended apartment for veterans, and alike affable them into her home until they get on their anxiety again.
Kit’s eyes for her alignment is greater than what she currently provides. She is able with architectural renderings, budgets, and diplomacy to actualize capricious apartment for Essex County veterans. She is already in the action of developing 11 units in Buffalo, New York.
In an exclusive account for TAPinto East Orange/Orange, I was advantaged to booty a abysmal dive into the adventure of Cheryl “Kit” Turner that I am abiding the readers will enjoy:
Timberlake: Kit, how continued did you serve in the military, and why did you join?
Kit: I served in the aggressive for 23 years as a affiliate of the Air Force. I was finishing up my chief year of academy and capital a change. Although I was an athlete, arena basketball, track, and soccer, I was consistently unique. I larboard academy in the aboriginal division of my chief year because I adapted more. I capital to see the world. So I went to the recruiting station, took the test, and said assurance me up. I waited for two canicule afore I told any of my family. I did this because my Mom capital to accompany the Navy but was talked out of it.
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Timberlake: What was ambrosial about the Air Force?
Kit: Going to see what the apple had to offer. There had to be a bigger abode or added to what I was seeing.
Timberlake: What places did you get to biking to through the Air Force?
Kit: Japan for eighteen years, Philippines eighteen for months, Mainland Japan for three years, area I gave bearing to my two sons. I accept been to Iceland, Greenland, Azores, Bermuda, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Neverlands, Brussels, Switzerland, Amsterdam, France.
Timberlake: Speaking of accouchement and birth. How was it as a woman in the macho saturated military? You were a mother and traveling with the accouchement in the service. Very alarming stuff.
Kit: It was fun and chaotic. Beautiful and sad at times. Aback I went to Desert Storm, it was heartbreaking. I larboard for six months, and aback I got back, my 2-year-old son did not admit me. He would not alike allege to me. To accomplish diplomacy worse, I was abandoned home for three canicule afore I got alleged aback to alive assignment with a new North Dakota mission. The admirer on the buzz who gave me these orders said he would alarm me aback in four hours to accommodate me with time to get my diplomacy in order. Afterwards I afraid up the phone, I cried, cerebration of my children. The aboriginal actuality I alleged was my mother and asked her to put me on her adoration list. By the time the man alleged me back, they had switched my orders, and I was able to break home at my accepted abject afterwards me adage a word. See, God works!
[Operation Desert Storm occurred in the aboriginal ’90s. It was the aboriginal above adopted war afterwards the end of the Cold War. It was a war adjoin Saddam Hussein, who led an Iraqi army into Kuwait. Kuwait is a above supplier of oil to the United States. If Saudi Arabia fell, Iraq would ascendancy one-fifth of the world’s oil supply]
(Photo: Provided by Kit of all changeable veterans during a get together. Kit is dressed in red checkerboard sitting in the center.)
Timberlake: In the Air Force you were an Air Medevac. What is that?
Kit: It is like benumbed about the ambulance actuality on the ground, abandoned we do it in the air and get to go to added places. You get to see the world, and you never apperceive area you are activity to end up.
Timberlake: Talk about Desert Storm in any way you want?
[For the reader’s edification, it is not advised affable to ask any adept specific questions about their time in the war. Crass questions about alarming things they may accept apparent or done during their time of account are consistently off-limits. Let them allocution in their way.]
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Kit: It was different. We congenital a medical admixture on what was advised the frontline. I was added or beneath the backup for two females who had been kidnaped and returned, and addition who got beatific home because she was abundant afore she deployed and did not apperceive it. But, we did not get to see combat. We aloof got to amusement the bodies who got injured. I assumption it is like actuality in an emergency room, you know, doctors and nurses who see gunshots and aggregate else. I bethink the beach was a absolute kicker. Aback the wind blew, you could deathwatch up with about 10 lbs of beach on top of your sleeping bag. But I acknowledge God. I was fortunate. I was not like your dad, who ran about with weapons during the war. I mean, I was weapons able as a small-arms expert, but the accuracy is I don’t decidedly like arena with guns. All I had was a little white ID card with a red cantankerous on it, and that was my best of weapon; healing bodies was my weapon. I absent home, of course, and they absent me. My admired ones could not acquisition me. They beatific me on the atom in abode of someone, so I had no orders or annihilation added than accepting gone to Homestead Air Force Base.
Timberlake: How was activity altered aback you were out of the service?
Kit: [Through laughter] We are acclimated to demography orders and accomplishing the job, alive the job until the job’s done. It was not the aforementioned aback I came home. We did not sit and comedy with corpuscle phones while working. The mission consistently came aboriginal in the military. It came afore ancestors and aggregate else.
Timberlake: Would you say vets are abnormally able or assignment added efficiently?
Kit: Yes, the mission comes first. Always. Aback out of the military, co-workers knew I was different. I started alive at FedEx, my demeanor, the way I absolved and talked was different. Afterwards adage annihilation about actuality in the military, anybody seemed to know.
Timberlake: Vets generally allocution about not accepting abutment aback they appear home. Do you acquisition the abutment to be lacking?
Kit: You are right. If you do not apperceive area to go to access that support, you can get lost. That is why my alignment and others like it are so important.
Timberlake: The assignment you do with New Hope Village for Vets, why did you alpha that?
Kit: I accept consistently helped bodies aback I was 14. Alike in the military, aback I came beyond abandoned people, I ashore my close out to help. It comes naturally. Aback I retired from the military, I went aback to school. While I was in school, I met a ancestors that was homeless. I took the mother and two sons into my home. Then, I was brought a man who was in the Marines and active in a dumpster. Bodies that knew me in the association knew I would booty him in, so they brought him to me. That was in 2008.
Timberlake: What happened to the bodies you took in?
Kit: The admirer is now clean, drug-free, working, and aback home with his family. As for the adult and her two sons, the oldest accelerating from Drew University and is a doctor, her youngest son is a civilian engineer, and she is alive at a childcare centermost aftermost I heard.
[Kit has taken in dozens of abandoned bodies over the years]
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Timberlake: Why do you anticipate it is capital to accessible your doors? Why not aloof accord them a brace of bucks or aliment to eat?
Kit: Because sometimes they charge a little more. They charge patience, love, and understanding. They charge to apperceive they are not alone, and they do not accept to airing this airing by themselves. Assurance me, afterwards spending years abandoned myself, in and out of my car and auberge rooms, of that nature. I accept how it is. In 2007, I was in a car blow and could not work. I became homeless. My job in the association at the time led me not to acquaint anybody about my need. I became abandoned aback I was the cavalcade administrator and became the accompaniment vice-commander of the American Legion. I could not acquaint anybody.
Timberlake: How did you acquisition your way out of homelessness?
Kit: The acumen and how I became abandoned was because of that car accident. I could not assignment a approved job anymore. So my money went from authoritative $45K a year to a little over $10K a year. Not abundant you can do aback you are abandoned bringing in $856 a month. I was cat-and-mouse for my amusing aegis to bang in. Once the amusing aegis kicked in, I was able to accessible my aperture and ask for help. I got rental abetment from the aggressive for a year, afresh my VA allowances kicked in, and I accept not looked aback since.
(Photo: Britnee Timberlake in her role as Assemblywoman anniversary Kit for her service)
Timberlake: Tell me about the alignment you founded out of your experiences?
Kit: It was started in 2008 as Hope Home. I had a adamantine time accepting nonprofit cachet because I capital to about-face the home I was active in Montclair into a adept home. We could not get Township approval to do it. So, I afflicted the name to New Hope Village for Vets and, in 2013, got nonprofit status. Under the nonprofit, aggregate I had been accomplishing as far as hosting coat and toy drives, giving out food, allowance bodies acquisition apartments, allowance them move, allowance them get their benefits, was article I was accomplishing all along. If I could bang in a few bucks for addition to break in a auberge overnight, that is what I did, and that is what I still do with the nonprofit. But my end ambition is to body housing. With my vision, veterans and their families will consistently accept a abode to live.
Timberlake: What has been the best cogent claiming to accomplishing your end goal?
Kit: Finding the money and the acreage to build. Actuality in Essex, I accept approached municipalities but accept not had any luck. All I charge is an abandoned building. Let me start. Assurance me. I will be able to build. Currently, a woman in Buffalo, NY, gave me a artifice of land, and we are already in the action of architecture 11 capricious apartments on it. I am acquisitive we can do article in Essex County too. Still, admitting accepting architectural drawings, a complete diplomacy for building, and accouterment services. The appropriate public-private affiliation has not appear along. If I could get my easily on a abandoned building, I will about-face it about into a alcazar for vets actuality at home. Until then, my dream of apartment for vets is on its way to curl in Buffalo.
To accord to New Hope Village for Veterans or to accept help, amuse visit: www.NewHopeVillage4Veterans.com, and do not balloon to acknowledge a adept today, and always.
If you would like to appoint addition to be featured in one of my “Heroes Walk Beside Us” articles, amuse abide their name, bio, and acumen for choice to [email protected]
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Britnee N. Timberlake is a stakeholder of TAPinto by way of the East Orange/Orange site. Her capital action is to affection belief and interviews of people, organizations, companies, etc. aural East Orange/Orange who accomplish a aberration in the community. To abolish battle of interest, Timberlake is not complex in accessories accounting about political campaigns or chief if any adventure is appear highlighting her assignment as a NJ Accompaniment Assemblywoman.
TAPinto East Orange/Orange is an online bi-weekly confined East Orange and Orange as a allotment of a arrangement of added than 80 franchised bounded account sites in NY, NJ, and FL. TAPinto afresh won 3 of 5 arete in bounded journalism awards by the Centermost for Cooperative Media in NJ. We are accepted by the NJ Accompaniment Police, by way of the NJ Columnist Association in which we are abiding members. We booty pride in accouterment cold news, fact-finding advertisement while featuring absolute belief and acquaintance campaigns. If you appetite to abide agreeable (press releases, events, etc.) for consideration, amuse do so by beat the “submit content” tab at the right-hand bend of our homepage, and chase the instructions from there. Got a account tip? Interested in advertising? Looking to address a cavalcade or to accommodate freelance reporting? Email us at [email protected] Sign up for our FREE daily eNews and chase us on Facebook.
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