cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
Broken Clouds
H 82° L 62°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 82° L 62°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 82° L 62°
  • clear-day Created with Sketch.
    Sunny. H 87° L 64°

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Veterans remain hopeful in the face of homelessness

Veterans remain hopeful in the face of homelessness

Veterans remain hopeful in the face of homelessness
Photo Credit: Gene Wexler

Veterans remain hopeful in the face of homelessness

This weekend around 30 veterans learned the shelter they call home may not be open much longer.

The couple who runs the Allied Veterans Center in Arlington told WOKV they would deliver the news and ask everyone to help out after learning their major donor, Allied Veterans of the World, has been accused of criminal activity.  Key players in the organization are accused of using the name as a front to run illegal gambling sites that were supposed to be giving money to veteran charities.

The Center received hundreds of thousands of dollars, and now will have to close its doors in a few months if they don’t find another source of funding.

But even after learning that news, some of the residents are not giving up hope.

“We’re gunna get through it, but it’s gunna be a lot more difficult now,” says Bryan Stewart.

Stewart is a former National Guardsman who has been living in the Center a few months.  He served in the Gulf War from 1986-91.

He describes himself as well educated, but says he stumbled on bad luck and personal problems and was dealing with PTSD.

“If it wasn’t for the Center, I would be on the streets,” he says.

A similar story to the story Navy veteran Anthony Centonze shares.  He served at sea from 2006-12 and has been at the Center just a few days. In that time he has found comfort in having a bed and food.  He tells us if that were taken away, he would likely be back on the streets.

But despite that being a very real option on the table, Centonze is also optimistic.

“I have all the confidence in the world that somebody will step up and help with this place,” he says.

Stewart tells us he was humbled by needing to ask for help, but the resources provided at the Center have helped him move toward independence once again, and he gives the credit for that to the couple who run it, Len and Suzi Loving.

“I wanna be able to get out of here and give back to these people,” he says.

He jokes with us about how Colonel Loving would love to see the shelter empty because every occupant has been able to get on the right path.  Both veterans credit the resources at the Center, from job connections to legal advice, for moving them closer to doing that.

“I never thought I would be here, but I am, and I try to make the best of it on a daily basis,” Stewart says.

The Loving’s have given up a salary until their financial future is more certain. They’ve asked the small staff to consider the same and have now told the veteran residents about what the future holds.  Len Loving tells us they will be open through June or July, but unless new donors step in, past that is unclear.

Stewart and Centonze pass that plea on to you, but say it’s not for their sake but rather the Center’s.  Stewart says the Loving’s have big plans to help a lot of people, and that could be washed away if the doors close.

Read More

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • It's taking texting to the next level.   In addition to their ‘Text to 9-1-1’ service, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is now offering a text line for non-emergency situations.   This 'Text to Administration' feature will be routed through an application and allow for non-emergency communication, when a phone call isn't possible.   All you have to do is type in the Sheriff's Office phone number, 904-824-8304, as the recipient of the text and then send your message.   But the Sheriff's Office warns there may a delay in the text response, so if you have an emergency, call or text 911 instead. 
  • The Jacksonville woman accused of smuggling in a Mexican national to serve as a pregnancy surrogate, then forcing the woman in to manual labor while being physically and psychologically abusive, has pleaded guilty. We first told you about the federal criminal complaint against Esthela Clark in June 2015. Investigators say she paid around $3,000 to smuggle a Mexican woman in to the US, telling the woman she would serve as a surrogate for her pregnancy while under medical supervision. In reality, the court records say Clark tried to inseminate the woman herself by using a plastic syringe and her boyfriend’s sperm, performing the procedure on the dining room floor of their Jacksonville apartment. There was no successful insemination. Court records say Clark also forced the woman in to domestic labor, while being physically and psychologically abusive- including subjecting the victim to an extreme diet that resulted in her losing 65 pounds. The victim’s family was also contacted by Clark in an effort to recover the cost of the smuggling and more. Clark was indicted on a total of nine counts, including harboring aliens, sale in to involuntary servitude, sex trafficking and more. She has pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor, and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, according to the US Attorney’s Office. A sentencing date has not yet been set. The federal court docket says Clark’s trial had been scheduled for May.
  • Antonia Lopez, a Nebraska teen who admitted to throwing her newborn baby out the window, won't be serving any jail time, the Omaha World-Herald reports. On Friday, Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Christopher Kelly ordered Lopez to be placed on probation, live in a group home, take part in individual and family therapy, delete her Facebook account and perform 50 hours of community service, according to the World-Herald. In September, Lopez, 16, reportedly gave birth to a baby girl in her apartment, then threw the baby out the window. She then texted her boyfriend, “It was a girl by the way,” and admitted her crime to her mother, the World-Herald reported. She told police that she was unaware that she was pregnant and thought she was just having her period. >> Read more trending news An autopsy revealed that the infant, who later died, was still breathing at the time the blunt-force injuries were sustained. It also showed that Lopez had been pregnant for 25 to 28 weeks.  “She’s coping the best she can,” Lopez’s defense attorney Rebecca McClung said, adding that her client thought the child was a stillborn. “The mother is coping the best she can. The grandmother is coping the best she can.” Lopez was initially charged as an adult with felony child abuse resulting in death, which could have meant 20 years in prison. However, in February, her case was transferred to juvenile court after her mental state and lack of criminal record were considered, the World-Herald reported. She reportedly was ordered to live in a group home because judges were concerned that she didn’t understand the severity of her actions. The Facebook deletion order stemmed from her receiving numerous negative comments on her page following her arrest, the World-Herald reported. Read more here.
  • Officers were first called to the area because of a domestic dispute. Now traffic homicide detectives have taken over after a 50-year-old Atlantic Beach man is hit and killed by a sport utility vehicle near Naval Station Mayport. Darrell McKenzie died at UF Health around an hour after he was run over by a 2003 white Chevy Suburban last night on the 4500 block of Ocean Street/A1A near Pearl Street. The crash report shows he was laying across the northbound lanes when the SUV - which was going northbound - ran him over around 10 p.m. Sunday. Charges are pending against the driver - a 22-year-old Atlantic Beach woman - until JSO completes its investigation. She wasn't taken to the hospital by paramedics, per the report. Investigators believe McKenzie was being restrained by family members due to his mental well-being just before the accident, but the report doesn't specify what exactly the fight was about.
  • A beloved music teacher from San Jose Elementary will no doubt be on the hearts and minds of students and staff as they return from spring break. Deborah Liles was found dead in her Panama Park home on the northside late last week. Her car was recovered over the weekend not far from her home. Liles' gold 2010 Buick LaCrosse was found on Golfair Boulevard on Saturday and JSO is now asking for the public's help identifying who was driving it.  Neighbors said police found the car behind an abandoned house near Notter Avenue. Police call the case a murder, and Liles’ children said she'd been a victim of several crimes in the past. “I don’t know about the circumstances. I don’t know if they’re coincidences happening. I don’t know if there’s a connection between what happened then and what happened now,' Liles' daughter Rachel Sirmans said. 'We really want to find those answers.” 'Just the condolences, completely unknown numbers that text us…I was your mother's music student in third grade and I'm in high school now”, said Liles’ son Gerald. JSO says this is an active ongoing investigation.   Anyone who knows anything about this murder is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

The Latest News Videos