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Veteran nonprofit to host Talk Saves Lives

By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL

Staff Writer

Owasso Foundation is hosting a Talk Saves Lives town hall meeting open to all veterans at 7 p.m. on March 19 at the Clanton Masonic Lodge.

Talk Saves Lives will be presented by Ashley Foster, who is a representative from the Alabama chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The class is an introduction to suicide prevention.

“Talk Saves Lives is actually a idea we’ve had for a while to begin some town hall meetings for veterans and their families,” Chairman Mike Welborn said, adding that the class strives “to bring up and bring some awareness to the community about suicide prevention … the class is aimed at anyone who will listen because suicide is such a problem in society.”

Vice Chairman Phil Burnette said the class will present resources for help and support.

Future town hall meetings will meet quarterly (if able) to explore a variety of topics, including VA home loans, which is on the anticipated agenda for the next meeting in June.

Veterans and other community members can call (205) 312-9183 to RSVP for meetings.

“We’re going to try to provide a light snack — some drinks and maybe some finger food … so, we need a head count,” Welborn said.

Owasso Foundation is a Clanton-based nonprofit formed in 2015 which aims to provide assistance and resource awareness to Chilton County veterans.

“Its mission is to pretty much do whatever we need to do to support the veterans and the families,” Welborn said, explaining that the foundation deals with claims against veterans administration, provides rides and food to veterans who need them and more.

“We help veterans to pursue their health benefits, education benefits, disability compensation, widows’ pensions, dependence education benefits — those are most of the primary things that we work on right now,” Burnette said.

Owasso does not provide financial support.

“We just don’t have the money to do that,” Welborn said.

Burnette and Welborn are both disabled veterans and work out of the temporary Owasso office at the Clanton Masonic Lodge.

“The ultimate vision for Owasso is to eventually purchase property to become a ranch and retreat center for veterans and their families,” Welborn said. “There’s two sides to that vision. The first side is to bring in homeless veterans off the street, to be able to get them a place to stay and get them hopefully some job skills.”

Welborn said the second side is the “retreat side” for veterans and their families to enjoy fishing, horseback riding, camping and more.

“That’s the ultimate, long-range vision,” Welborn said. “We’re having to take baby steps … we do what we can with what we have.”

Beginning April 9, Owasso Foundation office hours will be Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. and by appointment and will ultimately include one Saturday per month.

For more information, visit the Owasso Foundation Facebook page.