PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 13, 2013 — A cloudless sky, hearty barbecue and seriousness of purpose served as the backdrop for a Veterans Day that featured a preview of Southwest Philadelphia’s forthcoming Hardy Williams Veterans Center.
State Sen. Anthony H. Williams joined U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and members of HELP USA in honoring local heroes and describing the housing facility that will bear the name of the late trailblazing Pennsylvania state senator and decorated Army veteran.
“Obviously on Veterans Day, the first thing to do is to give a great deal of thanks,” Williams told the crowd of former servicemen and women. “My grandfather was a veteran. My father was a veteran. But the truth is, many don’t really appreciate what it means every day to defend or stand on post. I personally want you to understand how significant of a day it is for all of us. I salute you again, and thank you very much.”
HELP USA, a national nonprofit that focuses on ending homeless and building self-sufficiency, unveiled the artist renderings for the new center, slated for a 2014 completion date. It will feature 61 permanent and supportive housing units for veterans and will be located at 7200 Grovers Ave.
Currently, nearly 1 in 10 homeless adults in the area are veterans, according to recent statistics. This is the fourth such facility HELP USA will have in Philadelphia as it works to shift those dynamics with affordable housing, skills development and other supports.
Along with Williams and Brady, state Rep. Maria Donatucci; Maria Cuomo Cole, chair of HELP USA; and Khaliah Ali, daughter of famed boxer Muhammad Ali, participated in the event. Khaliah Ali sits on the HELP USA board of directors and mixed in with an assembly of veterans at the event at 6100 Eastwick Ave.
The event concluded with a ceremonial flag rising and a barbecue to celebrate veterans of all ages who have risked their lives for the nation’s freedom.
Williams said he is grateful for a project that will support his father’s legacy of helping people at difficult or challenging times, regardless of their background.
“My dad was my hero and my father was sort of a maverick,” he said. “For someone to say that there will always be a permanent part of his name associated with the work that he lived, his life legacy, there’s no more perfect moment for me than this.”