BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Bingo was not the only big event at the Monday meeting of the Stony Point Senior Club II. During the gathering, club president Tom Robinson presented a $1,000 Homes for Heroes donation to Legislator John Murphy, a retired Marine who has spearheaded the initiative to provide affordable housing for formerly homeless veterans.
“I’m almost 80-years-old,” Murphy joked upon receiving the check. “So I’m not used to being one of the youngest people in the room!”
Then, after thanking the club for the donation, he turned serious as he described the history of Camp Shanks in Orangeburg, on whose grounds Homes for Heroes is now building the new apartments.
“At its height Camp Shanks covered over 2,200 acres,” Murphy said. “More than 1.2 million American soldiers departed there for Europe during World War II. The largest percentage of soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach, which accounts for the greatest number of D-Day casualties, had deployed from that camp.”
After the war the camp became a Nike missile base, then an army reserve base, and then fell into disuse as it was abandoned and sold off piece by piece. Through Murphy’s efforts, Homes for Heroes leased the last 15 acres as the site for new veteran housing, bringing the camp’s history full circle.
“This is the place where they left for war,” he said, “and now it will be the place they come home to. The housing we provide for homeless veterans will be a living memorial to the property’s history.”
Currently there are eight completed one-bedroom apartments on the grounds, of which seven are occupied. Phase II comprises another 26 units, some of which will contain multiple bedrooms.
Representing the Town Board, Councilman Jim Monaghan also praised the club for its donation, and thanked Murphy for leading the Homes for Heroes effort.
To raise the money, club member Anita Babcock organized a raffle for five unique afghans, each hand-crocheted by club members Anne Normoyle, Katie Baisley, Jeanette Strassburg, Alice Vasquez and Helen Watts. It took about a month, Baisely stated, to complete her afghan. The raffle brought in more than $900; the club then provided the rest to make it an even $1,000.
In addition to Homes for Heroes, the club has held fundraisers on behalf of the Veterans’s Administration Hospital Campuses at Montrose and Castle Point. Members have donated handcrafted bibs, walker caddies and lap robes, as well as raised money to benefit the veterans.
“We keep busy,” said Babcock, “and we look forward to staying active and continuing to contribute to our community.”