Veterans Workshop & Learning Center to celebrate its Grand Opening in May

Since 2018, local veterans, donors, foundations, and businesses have been working together to create the Veterans Workshop & Learning Center near Downtown Bay City.
Inside the workshop, veterans can try their hand at using different equipment.On Thurs., May 11 from 3 to 6 p.m., the Bay Veterans Foundation celebrates its success during the grand opening of its Veterans Workshop & Learning Center at 1009 Madison Ave. 
The building is divided into spaces to offer both rooms for work and places for quiet conversations.In the past, the building has served as a boarding house, restaurant, gas station, and Wings & Things bird store. Today, the Veterans Workshop & Learning Center includes a spacious workshop, classroom, and lounge inside the century-old building.
The Veterans Center includes a workshop filled with tools.The Bay Veterans Foundation, which formed in 2015, purchased the 5,700-square-foot building in 2018.
Once the building is open, veterans are invited to relax inside a small lounge.

You can read about the beginning of the project in a March 7, 2019 Route Bay City article.
 Route re-visited the center in 2021 to update progress. Click here to read the 2021 article.

A classroom inside the center creates an opportunity for learning.

The project began when Mike Jamrog and Keith Markstrom were at the Stein Haus talking about the problems military veterans face when they come home. 

Volunteers will teach veterans how to use the tools to work on individual projects.It’s a problem they know well. Jamrog, who retired from McLaren Bay Region, served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971 with service in Vietnam. Markstrom, who retired from the Bay Medical Foundation, was in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972, also serving in Vietnam. 
A small kitchen allows people to heat up lunches, make coffee, or enjoy snacks.The goal of the center is to help veterans find support, purpose, and friendship.
When a veterans find something he or she enjoys, the Foundation is ready to guide them to community resources to hone their skills.Inside the workshop, veterans will be able to try their hand at using different equipment. When they find something they like, the Foundation is ready to guide them to community resources to hone their skills, Markstrom says.

Shelves inside the center are stocked with supplies to get acquainted with the equipment.Bay County is home to more than 8,000 veterans. Veterans make up 8.2% of the county population. More than 5,000 veterans, or 6.6% of the population, live in Midland County. Saginaw County is home to nearly 12,000 veterans, or 6.3% of the population.
Volunteers and workers from Serenus Johnson Construction worked together for over a year to transform the space.Even before the facility opened, it was helping veterans. A veteran of the war in Iraq learned how to use a bandsaw and is making wooden tiles for the office area of the building. 
The Bay Veterans Foundation formed in 2015.DuPont Corp. donated 6,400 square feet of insulation. Lawrence Smith Door & Window donated four steel-encased windows worth about $24,000. Alro Steel gave the veterans an 80% discount on steel headers and support posts. The Duro-Last Company donated enough materials for a 5,700-square-foot roof. 
A small kitchen allows people to heat up lunches, make coffee, or enjoy snacks.Looking ahead, Home Depot of Bay City has asked for a list of items still needed. The Saginaw Bay Sailing Association offered scholarships to teach veterans how to sail. Others have reached out offering projects for veterans. Grant applications have been filed throughout the area.

Grants and donations were key to developing the center and all that it provides to veterans.Individual donors also have stepped up. A local veteran and his family agreed to donate landscaping materials. A Delta College CAD and CNC instructor asked the foundation for a project for one of his students. Another veteran is creating a website and handling social media. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) awarded a grant to pay for parking lot asphalt.

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