WASHINGTON PARK — A veterans center in Washington Park is asking for help after it was forced to shut down when a steam pipe burst.
“Normally we serve 450 meals a day,” said Arnetha Gholston-Habeel, director of the R.T.W. Veterans Center, 5536 S. Martin Luther King Drive. “No one is getting those meals because we are closed.”
Gholston-Habeel said a door was left open at some point on Saturday night and the freezing temperatures caused thousands of dollars in damage to the three-story graystone.
“The whole basement looked like an ice capade, the pipes had frozen and burst,” she said.
She said there is an estimated $4,000 in damage to the building that will take at least a week to fix.
She said she was told the center's insurance would not cover the damages because the door being left open was negligence. She said the center will likely have to pay for the repairs with money it had set aside for next month’s mortgage payment.
“We are going to have more issues in a month,” Gholston-Habeel said. “We are in trouble.”
She said the center has been able to continue some services, like transportation for veterans to get to work, but is worried that there are not enough resources in the area to pick up the slack while the center is closed.
“There is no one else doing what we do seven days a week,” Gholston-Habeel said of the hot meals program.
She said the center is looking for plumbers, carpenters and others who can donate their skills to repair the center and is seeking donations to cover the material costs.
For more information, visit rtwvetcenter.org or call 312-972-2582.