Public gets first peek at veteran center:
Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 10:28 am By Joey Chenoweth Editor.
Currently set for September grand opening

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Coolidge’s Open Hands Outreach Program (OHOP) now has a proper headquarters now that it has unveiled the Coffee Pot Canteen on 210 W. Central Ave. The building, located in between the antique shops across from the post office, will initially serve as a place for veterans to meet with the people who run the non-profit organization, as well as a venue for music and refreshments on the first Friday of every month. They hope to have the shop’s grand opening some time in September, with a ribbon cutting ceremony that has already gained interest from representatives Ann Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar.

Renovations to the building, which was previously a restaurant, began about a month ago with purely volunteer work. It has become a place that organizers hope veterans will be able to come and relax in a laid-back atmosphere. But more importantly, it will be a place veterans can come to seeking help for the problems they have encountered.

OHOP hosted its first event at the Canteen on May 3, with many veterans and other community members attending to enjoy the music of Kenaniah, a local Christian duo. Coffee, tea, pastries and other refreshments were provided by the Church of the Nazarene, with “customers” paying for their drink and pastries with donations, a financial model OHOP hopes to continue.

“We would like different churches to come in and adopt the center for the week, providing us with volunteers to work the shop,” said organizer Tom Hunt.

Thus the Canteen will likely never be a typical business, but a philanthropic venture solely reliant on volunteers and donations that will be used to provide services to those who have come back from war with problems that most of the rest of the world does not understand.

Diann Lesueur, OHOP’s founder, spoke of the Canteen with pride for how far the organization has come in such a short time, saying the growth of OHOP has surpassed her wildest expectations.

“People told me that once we gained non-profit status, it would take us two or three years to really get going,” Lesueur said. “Not it’s been just a few months, and look at us.”