The kind of recognition that Davante Goins is now getting for his project is precisely the same gratitude and help he wished Columbus veterans would get for doing even more – putting their lives on the line to defend the country.
By IKE MGBATOGU
COLUMBUS – The kind of recognition that Davante Goins is now getting for his project is precisely the same gratitude and help he wished Columbus veterans would get for doing even more – putting their lives on the line to defend the country.
Goins, who is 15 years old, is the chief executive director of ‘Operation Shelter 4 Homeless Veterans,’ an organization he started a couple of years ago to help find transitional homes for homeless veterans.
Goins’ work is getting him plenty of praises.
Last week, he was one of “35 people” who received a ‘certification of appreciation’ award from the Superintendent of Columbus City Schools Gene Harris for “what they do in school and in the community,” district spokeswoman Jackie Bryant told the Call & Post.
Goins’ reaction to the honor was one of equal mix of humility and glee.
“For the city of Columbus to be backing me and the school board I’m saying ‘wow’ I got a lot of support from people who know now is the time to act,” said Goins.
Larry Farley was wowed, too.
“I was quite excited and I couldn’t believe how this has snowballed,” said Farley, who serves on the group’s board. “A 15 year old… I mean I know when I was 15 years old I wasn’t thinking about things like this.”
But Goins doesn’t think he is the only 15 year old with grand vision.
“There’s a lot of people with big ideas here at Mifflin, it just happens mine is the one that’s getting the most attention right now,” he said.
Mifflin High School is where Goins attends school as a sophomore.
Superintendent Harris joined the scores of people applauding Goins’ efforts. Not too long ago, NBC4 TV featured his project. And, he has had meetings with the Columbus City Council members and other government leaders to share his plans for helping homeless veterans.
According to the group’s website, ‘operation4homelessveterans.org,’ its mission is “to get homeless veterans off the streets of Columbus, Ohio.” It plans to do that by refurbishing vacant and abandoned properties in the city for homeless veterans.
Goins’ is eyeing the “5,700” abandoned and vacant homes in Columbus that could be converted into homes for homeless veterans.
The soft-spoken Goins, who plans to attend Law School, possibly at Georgetown University, is driven by the simple belief that “it’s criminal for veterans to be homeless in the United States.”
He decried the practice of allowing abandoned and vacant homes to go to waste while the city’s homeless veterans dwell under highway bridges and elsewhere in abject squalor.
Goins said that the inspiration to launch this project came from his grandfather after hearing his grandmother tell the glum stories of how his grandfather returned from Vietnam War to shabby treatment and disdain.
The project is off the ground but Goins is seeking financial support. He plans to pitch his project to media tycoon Oprah Winfrey, Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, and First Lady Michelle Obama, who knows a thing or two about the importance of projects that cater to the needs of veterans.
Helping Goins with the project is a six-member board of community professionals that include Howard Williams, Director of Housing; Michael Watkins, Director of Veterans Affairs; Brandi Martin, Director of Community and Public Affairs; Mike Meyer, Chief Director of Operations; Denise Johnson, Director of Legal Affairs, and Larry Farley, Director of Education.
Goins and ‘operation4homelessveterans.org can be reached at (614) 589-7084.
Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at Onumbamedia@yahoo.com