A Little Bit of Hope

Article excerpt

Byline: Marie Wilson mwilson@dailyherald.com

This Veterans Day, one Aurora resident and eight-year veteran of the Army National Guard knows where he will be -- not at a bar or drinking with friends at a cookout, but at his home with Hope for Tomorrow's U.S. Vetcare program, clean and sober.

"Before I came to Hope for Tomorrow, everything in my whole life revolved around drinking," said Pete Z., whose full name is being withheld for privacy concerns.

Pete is a veteran who has been living in one of Hope for Tomorrow's recovery homes since January, working to end an alcohol addiction.

"It's absolutely changed my life," he said.

For 11 years, the Aurora nonprofit organization has provided substance-free housing and counseling for recovering addicts. Recently, it began the Vetcare program, and currently houses seven veterans, said founding President and Clinical Director Jeff Gilbert.

"We started with five beds and we've advanced to five residential homes," he said. "What I think we've always tried to do is look at what services are short in the community and try to meet the need."

The organization is in the process of renovating two homes on Lake Street that it purchased with a $450,000 grant from the city of Aurora. The extra space will allow Hope for Tomorrow to assist more veterans struggling with alcoholism, drug addictions or post-traumatic stress disorder, Gilbert said.

The properties, at 469 and 479 N. Lake St., both are in need of interior repairs to turn them into offices and residences for Hope for Tomorrow staff and clients, Gilbert said. …