DETROIT - Everyday Hero: Making A Difference, Paul McNeill
After serving 27 years in the Navy and retiring as a Captain (which is equivalent to a Colonel in other branches of the service), Paul McNeill was contemplating what to do. His fiancée, who lived in the Detroit area, suggested he come to Detroit. Fours years ago he arrived, looking for work. But he also decided to pursue a real estate license, because he always wanted to get into that line of work.
Has he continued to look for work, Paul states,? I knew that God would direct me to the job He wanted me to have?. Well one day a friend told him about a position of Property Manager through Southwest Solution at Piquette Square in Detroit. Piquette Square was just being completed as a housing facility for homeless veterans. Paul was a veteran himself and had a real estate license which was necessary for the job. The rest is history as they say; in April 2010 he was hired.
This 4 story building has a capacity for up to 300 homeless veterans. The homeless population of our veterans nationally is at 15 %. But the national homeless rate is 7%. Something is wrong here, where those who dedicate their lives to protecting our country, when they return they have higher percentage of homelessness. The figure of homeless African American veterans even runs higher at 30%.
Paul?s? job is ever going; he says some days are just a blur of activity. But he is so thankful that he is in a position to help his veteran brothers and sisters. Piquette Square also allows the spouses of veterans to live there. They receive a variety of services which include, veterans benefit counseling, job training, and basic case management. But the most important thing that it does is it allows them to have a home and come out of the cold. As they stabilize and find jobs they move on and make room for someone else.
Now a very unique aspect of this building is that it is ?geothermal?. It functions with a process of heating and cooling, where water is the medium and anti freeze is the catalyst. Pumps transfer heated and cooled water into the ground and recycle it based upon the season. So these once homeless veterans now have the benefit of living in a state of ?the art building?.
Paul says that his interaction with veterans, forming friendships, listening to their stories and helping them meet their everyday challenges is what drives him. He said never in a million years, as he was serving his country would he ever have imagined being in a position at this stage of his life to ?serve those, who have served us.?
Paul McNeil is an Everyday Hero: Who is Making A Difference.
Do you know an everyday hero in your life? E-mail us and tell us about them.
Rev. V. Lonnie Peek, Jr. located in Detroit in 1975. After teaching 2 years in DPS, he went to WSU receiving a Masters of Social Work, an activist on campus he created the Association of Black Students. He is an entrepreneur and serves on such civic boards as New Detroit, Inc, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. With extensive radio background expanding 25 years, he writes a weekly column for the Michigan Chronicle. He has been a regular on local/ national television shows dealing with political and social issuesAn ordained minister and seminary graduate, he serves on the executive committee and is the public relations chairman for the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and is Assistant Pastor at Greater Christ Baptist Church.
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