The Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Project sponsored by the non-profit Celebrate Outreach group got a boost for their Monday, August 13 fundraiser in St. Petersburg when John and Lisa Riesenbeck, owners of Smokin’ J’s Real Texas BBQ in Gulfport, cooked up a free hot lunch on site for all veterans.
“We’re expecting from 200 to 300 people to come through for lunch and to look at the four tiny homes models,” said John Riesenbeck as he worked his trailer-based smoker. “We’re trying to raise money to build the tiny homes.”
The fundraiser, the tiny homes model tour and related program was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 100 Mirror Lake Drive in St. Petersburg.
Riesenbeck is a Navy veteran who served during peacetime as a seaman minesweeper from 1979 to 1981.
“We wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have without” veterans, he said.
On Thursday, August 16, project organizers will meet with staff from the city of St. Petersburg to discuss the purchase of a piece of property where the first tiny home will be built, said Riesenbeck.
“We’re getting close to our goal to build the first one,” he said.
According to Celebrate Outreach, “in Pinellas County, 329 veterans spend each night in locations not meant for habitation.”
The project will build tiny homes to house homeless veterans and is a collaboration between the non-profit group and the University of South Florida’s School of Architecture and Community Design.
Jimmy Grignon, a veteran and a market development manager for the LP Building Products Corporation headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, also sponsored Monday’s event and led a group of eight event volunteers from his company.
For more information about the project and to donate or volunteer, visit celebrateoutreach.org/index.html or call Sabine von Aulock, one of the project’s team members, at 973-768-3256.