A program consisting of regional organizations and businesses aims to build the first tiny home for a Hannibal veteran in need, after their first home was established in Quincy on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

A program consisting of regional organizations and businesses aims to build the first tiny home for a Hannibal veteran in need, after their first home was established in Quincy on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The Tri-State Community Veterans Village (TSVCV) partnered with Mid America Military Salute, 2x4s for Hope and dozens of area businesses and organizations to establish their first tiny home for Army veteran Michelle Roberts in Quincy. Richard Elsenpeter, TSVCV president and 25-year military veteran, said the tiny home is the first stage in a plan to “help one veteran at a time,” by providing fully-furnished tiny homes to veterans in need.

The second 360-square-foot home will benefit a veteran in need in Quincy, and the third home will do the same for a Hannibal veteran next spring.

Future plans call for villages of 250-square-foot homes in Hannibal, Quincy and other communities throughout the Tri-State area.

Elsenpeter said a village would be ideal setting for veterans, allowing brothers-in-arms to “talk shop” about their shared experiences in the Armed Forces. He said 3-5 acres would be necessary to establish the villages, and he looks forward to working with officials from groups like the Planning and Zoning Commission and Hannibal City Council.

Local businesses and organizations can help with each of the 26 separate modules of the construction — like electrical work, shingles and furnishings. The cost to build each house is between $25,000-26,000. A fundraiser for the Hannibal home will take place with a restaurant takeover night from 4-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Rebel Pig in Palmyra.

Elsenpeter said that community support brought the first home from an idea to fruition in 60 days. He summed up the build teams' efforts as “magical”. The volunteers transformed a pile of building materials into a house within eight hours. The partnership with 2x4s for Hope, a Quincy-based international organization that sells 2x4s for $3, which donors use to build tiny homes after covering the lumber with handwritten blessings and kind wishes.

“Now that house is built, as soon as she is going to be able to move in, she's going to have all those goals, all those 2x4s, all those blessings surround her for the rest of her life in that home,” he said. “I think that's such a great concept, to know that you have all those tidings of good joy surrounding you at all times — those prayers.”

Elsenpeter said Roberts was a dedicated employee for The Crossing Church in Quincy.

Elsenpeter said that hard numbers of homeless veterans in the region vary depending on the source, but veterans may be “couchsurfing” between homes or at risk of homelessness. Roberts lived with her sister before her new home reached its permanent location. But he stressed that there are veterans in need throughout the region — the mission continues to help them become homeowners, receive their Veterans Affairs benefits and secure employment through one-on-one support with factors like assistance with resumes and seeking help for conditions like substance abuse or PTSD.

The second home will be constructed on Veteran's Day in Quincy, and the third home will follow in spring 2019 for a Hannibal veteran. Elsenpeter said he hopes the teams' successful cooperation serves as an inspiration.

“We want to show not only the community — we want to show the state, we want to show the region, we want to show the country — how the Tri-State region treats their veterans,” he said. “This is how we do it here. This is how we take care of our veterans.”

To volunteer, donate or learn more about the Tri-State Veterans Community Village, call 217-577-2001, email Relsenpeter@tsvcv.org or find them on Facebook.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com