The Bridge 4 Veterans shelter

On June 1, The Bridge 4 Veterans, a new nonprofit organization in Citrus County, stepped in to run the veterans shelter in Inverness and to be a bridge between the shelter residents and resources in the community.

They had a ribbon cutting on Friday, June 4, with some of their community partners.

From the left: Josh Wooten, Citrus County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO; Jess Maloney and Jess Ebert from the United Way of Citrus County; Richard Floyd, Bridge board member and member of the Veterans Coalition; Justin Graham, Bridge board member; Sunshine Arnold, veteran and friend of The Bridge; Iris Wilsek, social worker with the Veterans Affairs office in Citrus County; Greg Pelletier, The Bridge 4 Veterans president; Tom O'Brien, Mission United/United Way of Citrus County; Cheri Simek, United Way of Citrus County and Diana Gibbs, St. Vincent de Paul CARES. 

Since it opened in 2010, the veterans shelter in Inverness, previously part of the Mission in Citrus, has always been about veterans helping other veterans.

Beginning June 1, The Bridge 4 Veterans, a new Citrus County-based nonprofit organization with veterans on its board, has stepped in to run the shelter and to be a bridge between the shelter residents and resources in the community.

Mission in Citrus founder, James Sleighter, has stepped down from running the veterans shelter.

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On Friday, June 4, a group of community partners and Bridge board members met for a ribbon cutting at the shelter on South Park Avenue in Inverness.

“Our goal is to get the veterans to accomplish their goals, whatever they may be,” said Bridge president Greg Pelletier.

To do this, they are partnering with agencies such as the United Way of Citrus County, especially their Mission United veterans program, the Veterans Coalition, Veterans Affairs and St. Vincent de Paul CARES, among others.

Pelletier said immediate plans are to do some repairs and sprucing up the shelter itself as well as assessing the needs and goals of the residents — currently there are about 10 — whether it’s finding jobs for those who are able to work or their own places to live for those who are able to live on their own.

They will also be providing case management for the residents through their local partnering agencies.

Pelletier said The Bridge 4 Veterans formed in April and they're still in the process of getting everything they need to start fundraising, pursuing grants or receiving donations.

Until then, the Veterans Coalition is able to accept donations to pay for the shelter’s operating expenses, said Bridge board member Richard Floyd, who is also with the Veterans Coalition.

For more information about The Bridge 4 Veterans, email Greg Pelletier at gpell70@gmail.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com. Read more of Nancy's stories at tinyurl.com/yxt69grh