Vina native working to help other veterans
Longtime Vina resident Nelson Davidson never dreamed that after serving his country in the military for four years he would find himself homeless and unable work due to health reasons, but that was the exact situation he faced back in October of 2010.
Davidson, who grew up in the Atwood community and graduated from Vina High School in 1983, served in the military from 1990 until 1994.
After he returned home, he was able to find work as a welder for the next 10 years and spent a short time doing computer work for Dell before his health forced him to quit his job.
During this same time, the home he lived in burned, and without a steady source of income, Davidson said he found himself in a position he never thought he’d be in: homeless.
“I ended up moving in with my mom for a while and then lived with a cousin in Hamilton where I had found work,” he said. “But after my health issues forced me to quit my job, I had to move back in with my mom and I bounced between her house and my best friend’s house for a while.”
Davidson said his situation didn’t get any better and he knew he needed some assistance to get back on his feet, so he made the decision to call the Veteran’s Affairs crisis line and see what kind of help he could receive.
“In October of 2010, I called the VA crisis line and they told me to come to Birmingham,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen but I decided to go.”
Davidson said when he got to Birmingham, he received information about a newer organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans called Three Hots and a Cot, named after the three hot meals and a bed every soldier receives on active duty.
Davidson said he quickly found out that Three Hots and a Cot, which first got started in Birmingham in June of 2010, was a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans get back on their feet and prevent other veterans from becoming homeless.
Davidson said the organization was an invaluable tool in his road to leading a regular life again, and he joined the staff of Three Hots and a Cot in March of 2011 so he could begin helping people who found themselves in situations similar to his.
“They made me the assistant manager of the house that I was living in and I also serve as the IT director,” he said. “They took me from a homeless veteran to someone who can actually help homeless veterans.”
Davidson said the work he does is strictly on a volunteer basis. Instead of payment, he lives in the house he helps manage and spends his time helping veterans with their disability claims, job hunting, support meetings and other services the organization offers.
“I want the people in my home community to know about this organization because homeless veterans aren’t just found in Birmingham – they’re found everywhere,” he said. “I’m sure there are some in Franklin County, too, or someone there knows a homeless veteran.
“I know firsthand that this organization can help you get back on your feet, and I want as many people to know about it as possible.”
Davidson said since June of 2010, 180 veterans have been served by Three Hots and a Cot, but even more veterans could be served if they win a Home Depot Foundation-sponsored contest they are currently vying for.
“Back in November of 2011, Home Depot helped us remodel one of our houses,” he said. “Through that experience, they knew about our organization and entered us into their monthly Facebook voting contest called Aprons in Action where they award a $25,000 gift card to the non-profit that receives the most votes.
“If we win this contest, we hope to remodel three, three-bedroom homes we have acquired that could house nine more veterans who are in the last stages of getting back out on their own.
“I know not everyone can donate to an organization, but anyone can take the time out of their day to go online and vote in this contest.”
Davidson said to vote for Three Hots and a Cot to receive the $25,000 gift card to remodel homes for homeless veterans, go to http://apps.facebook.com/apronsinaction.
“Two words that should never go together are homeless and veteran,” he said. “I want the people in the community where I grew up to have the chance to make a difference in a veteran’s life.”