The Nine Line Foundation Giving Back to Those Who Gave So Much
The Nine Line Foundation
Giving Back to Those Who Gave So Much
By Katrice Williams
Veteran homelessness is not spoken about much in this country. Our veterans, at one point in time, were willing to lay their lives on the line for us in order to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. We’re all citizens of the same country; we can’t turn our backs on them,” says Megan Hostler. Megan has been the president and chief executive officer of the Nine Line Foundation for over ten years.
Nine Line Foundation, a 501(c)(3), was founded in 2013 by Tyler Merritt, a U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduate. He began the nonprofit as a valiant nationwide initiative to aid wounded veterans in need. At the time, Tyler was stationed in Savannah. Megan, who was once Tyler’s West Point admissions officer, contacted him about expanding the reach of the Foundation.
Megan had participated alongside various nonprofits throughout the years. She was helping one which provided handicap-accessible vans to wounded veterans. The recipient of one of the vans, a veteran amputee, had been awarded a home by another nonprofit. He had already been involved in the tedious process for over two years. Megan knew that obtaining a new home was crucial, though she was unaware of the lengthy time frame for it—it can typically take a veteran five to seven years to receive a home. Megan contacted Tyler in order to assist the veteran with the process.
Between 2014-2018, Nine Line Foundation built five custom homes for disabled veterans and their families.
Cove at Dundee
Megan was confident that the Foundation’s attention and efforts should have a primary focus: helping those veterans with no home.
“We decided to turn our attention to the one area that is really underserved – the homeless,” she says.
Nine Line Foundation partnered with Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless (CSAH) regarding a project to provide a tiny home community for homeless veterans near the corner of Dundee and Wheaton streets in Savannah. The project attempted to take a small step toward combating the crisis of veteran homelessness in the community.
In the fall of 2018, construction for the multi-phase project was underway. Nine Line Foundation pooled their talents and resources with several other benevolent contributors, including: Hansen Architects, Joe Marchese Construction, Thomas & Hutton Engineering Services, Gordon L. Hitt General Contractor, Garden State Tile, Eckards Flooring, Target and Home Depot, to name a few. Various local churches, schools, businesses and concerned citizens offered their time and financial support.
Nine Line Foundation helped to organize hundreds of skilled volunteers for the building of the homes; each 125-square-foot home included a full bathroom, kitchenette and a bed. Upon completion, residents benefited from a community center with an on-site clinic, a nutritionist and other comprehensive resources and services.
Nine Line Foundation took pride in helping with a lot of the hands-on construction of Village #1. They also paid for the construction of Village #2 and the community center.
Moreover, Megan always knew there was so much more needed. She remained passionate about extending a hand of help to ensure homeless veterans could return to the confidence, pride and dignity they were familiar with when they served their country so selflessly.
“The entire country has to really get involved. I feel it’s going to take a nation to heal the wounds of our wounded soldiers. I felt the tiny homes were just an extension of filling the gap that I saw existing in our country to make a better life for our veterans,” she says.
Golden Isles Veterans Village
Aware of the phenomenal impact that Nine Line Foundation had made on the Cove at Dundee project, Congressman Buddy Carter reached out to the Foundation regarding a tiny home project for Brunswick known as the “Golden Isles Veterans Village Initiative”. The goal of the project was to build a transitional veterans village for homeless veterans in Brunswick.
This is certainly a community effort, gaining the support of businesses, corporations, churches, groups and numerous individuals. Nine Line Foundation initially committed to providing the interior/exterior wall components and roofing components for 20 tiny homes, each being 128 square feet.
“The interior and exterior wall components and the roofing components for the 20 homes were all built by students from two schools in Northern Illinois—Buffalo Grove High School and Wheeler High School; the components were then shipped to Savannah before being transported to South Newport Baptist Church in Townsend where they were erected,” Megan explains.
The Foundation, however, did not stop there; in fact, it has contributed to the building of ten more tiny homes for the Golden Isles Veterans Village community as well as a community center.
“Nine Line Foundation has since exponentially increased our involvement in this project, paying for the purchase of the land, paying for the underground utility work and providing the interior/exterior for ten additional tiny homes and a large 1,800-square-foot community center.
The Foundation was most recently involved in making a $90,000 donation to the project,” Megan says.
The additional ten homes will aid in offering even more space to those veterans who would benefit most from it.
“The ten larger tiny homes and the component parts for the community center were built in Illinois, shipped to Townsend, then transported to Brunswick and erected on-site; the size of the units dictated that they be built on-site rather than built and relocated,” Megan states.
Currently, 30 tiny homes and a large community center are erected in Brunswick, and work has begun on the interior – plumbing, electrical outlets and interior finishings. Each tiny home will be equipped with a full bathroom, bed area and kitchenette which includes an induction cooktop, microwave, crock-pot, refrigerator/freezer and kitchen supplies.
Golden Isles Veterans Village is located at 1403 G Street in Brunswick. It is a transitional (nonpermanent) housing community for veterans designed to help them get back on their feet with the overall mission to: “foster self-sufficiency and living with purpose after military life.”
“It’s a hand-up, not a hand-out, so they can transition into a better life,” Megan notes.
Veterans are able to appreciate the community—an atmosphere shared with those who have similar stories and similar challenges as their own.
“Veterans are supportive of each other; they understand each other. When they’re living together, working together and healing together, there’s a better probability of success,” she comments.
All veteran applicants must be registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) so that all matters are handled adequately and professionally throughout the entire process.
Aquaponics Training Center
A primary component of the Foundation’s transitional housing initiative is providing homeless veterans with an Aquaponics Training Center which is located in Savannah on Fort Argyle Road.
Many homeless veterans suffer from various mental illnesses along with other disorders. The center offers an atmosphere of emotional, mental and physical healing for the veterans along with beneficial job training.
“Veterans will have a consortium of care to help address the issues that caused their situation, helping them heal and reintegrate into society. They will be able to receive education and job training, along with physical and mental health services, so that they can move forward to a better life on their own,” Megan says.
Megan knows that many homeless veterans have endured feelings of hopelessness, ridicule and shame for a long time; they often feel that it is their reality—a reality that many individuals could never fathom. Nine Line Foundation understands that more than just a roof is needed—giving the opportunity for a new start in life is dire.
“We’re not just building housing; we’re building a path to success. Residents come to learn new skills and heal in a non-judgmental environment. They can learn skills that will translate into many different avenues and career paths. They will ultimately become self-sufficient,” she says.
Make a Difference
As a volunteer-driven organization, Nine Line Foundation appreciates all levels of giving from generous donors. Donate your time, donate your resources, donate monetarily; it all counts. Every cent raised makes a world of difference.
To learn more about Nine Line Foundation or make a donation, please visit www.ninelinefoundation.org. Those who would like to donate may also participate in the “Buy a Brick Campaign” by contacting Megan: [email protected] or visiting: Golden Isles Veterans Village Inc. Donor Site (bricksrus.com). The bricks will line the walkway at Golden Isles Veterans Village.
“Every penny that is donated goes toward the program. We have no brick and mortar, no salaried employees and no overhead. There is no amount too big and no amount too small. We all need to serve the greater good; that’s how we all stay together as a country—giving of ourselves,” Megan says.