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A new effort to house homeless female veterans in Collin County

Thanks to the efforts of Collin County’s Extreme Green Homes and 200-plus volunteers, several have an awesome new house

Reed House on Mullins in Lewisville

At the request of the young blonde woman standing onstage at the end of a freshly paved driveway, some 100 men, women, and children shut their eyes and imagined free-falling from 14,000 feet. There is no instructor in tandem, she told us. No parachute.

We sweat under a Saturday morning sun as our sights returned to the speaker.

“That’s what I felt returning after seven years of military service,” she said. “When I enlisted and went off to Naval boot camp, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I was cold, tired, hungry and scared…but as difficult as it was leaving my family and friends to join the military, leaving the service was so much more difficult,” said Crystal Janes, United States Navy veteran, to those gathered last weekend for the grand opening of Reed House on Mullins in Lewisville, a new, yet unoccupied, transitional home for female veterans.

Crystal Janes, U.S. Navy

See, as hard as life became for Crystal—who “no longer had the promise of a pay check,” was “no longer told what to do or where to be every day” and felt “washed over with the fear of failure”—it’s much worse for many others.

It was no fun being a woman in her 30s living with her parents, Crystal said. But at least she had a place to sleep each night. Hundreds of military veteran women in Texas do not.

Vets, volunteers and community members join the ceremony

“As of 2018, Texas alone had an estimated 1,935 veterans experiencing homelessness on any given day,” Crystal said. “Female veterans comprise the fastest-growing segment of our homeless veteran population … and unique adversities faced by women veterans are often unseen by society.”

Reed House welcomes female veterans who need a home

Thanks to Plano-based Green Extreme Homes and an army of volunteers and sponsors, at least seven women who served in the United States military soon will move into a sweet new home inside a state-of-the-art two-story abode designed using the latest in green technology.

A room inside Reed House

Pollutant- and contaminant-free cool air greets grateful guests as we enter the “zero energy ready” home’s tastefully tinted taupe walls. These walls aren’t simply a haven for once-struggling women. They also are constructed with structural insulated panels. And love. These walls stand six and a half inches thick and prop up a roof, also built with structural insulated panels, which, simply put, replace your typical wood-pane design with a stronger, more energy efficient and cost effective foam core (so says the Structural Insulated Panel Association).

The house’s plumbing system and water heaters save H2O. All appliances use a less-than-common amount of energy. Windows come triple-framed with fiberglass and cordless mini blinds and other specializations that keep the indoors comfy. In short, it’s an exceedingly smart home. And safe, too, with its security cams and RING doorbell system. But, wait for it … the property comes complete with—yes—chickens, and a top-of-the-range chicken coop.

For those unversed in urban chicken farming, it’s a thing—backyard chickens are cropping up everywhere. (Nearly one percent of all U.S. households recently surveyed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported owning backyard fowl). It’s about health, and sustainability and, you know, having four (that’s what Reed House claims right now) fluffy chickens running around, being adorable and laying eggs, right alongside your controlled environment hydroponics garden with 14 levels of vertical framing.

Forthcoming residents of Reed House have yet to be named, so we couldn’t speak with any of them yet, although we aim to see how they are doing in upcoming months.

Still, the vets and volunteers attending Saturday’s ribbon cutting and grand opening seemed pretty pumped, perhaps on the future residents’ behalf.
The morning’s theme seemed to be that the Reed House will help homeless female veterans transition back into a normal lifestyle. And the celebration’s purpose, it appeared, also was to show gratitude to the many who made so much possible. The project required the help of many, noted Victor Dreitner, who works with Citi, a major sponsor of the project.

“Through Citi, over 200 volunteers contributed more than 2,400 hours across 30 volunteer events to build this home. For any one of us it was a few hours on any given weekend, fairly insignificant standing alone. However, collectively, not just here but in society as a whole, combined efforts can have a significant impact.”

Christina Hughes

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