A year out of high school, Dennis Brown joined the Army, rising to the rank of corporal in his four years of service. Now, 40 years after he left the military, Dennis is helping veterans in need. In between, he built a good life repairing homes. But when that life unexpectedly fell apart, he himself became homeless and needed help. This was when he arrived at our Piquette Square for Veterans.
Piquette Square provides housing and support services to 150 formerly homeless veterans, and is recognized as a national model in the campaign to end veteran homelessness. It opened in 2010. Dennis moved in three years later.
“Piquette Square provided me stable housing and peace of mind,” said Dennis, who will turn 65 in May. “I enjoy the camaraderie here with other veterans, and the support staff here are very helpful.”
At Piquette, Dennis has been working with Erica Onuoha, a Veteran’s Supportive Housing Specialist.
“Erica has connected me with opportunities to help me meet my goals,” Dennis said.
Dennis is working part-time at Wayne County Community College (WCCC) as well as taking classes there. His job involves connecting veterans enrolled at WCCC with educational and other benefits to which they are entitled because of their service. Dennis started the job 11 years ago, and it has grown in responsibilities over the years.
“It’s rewarding work, and I help with about 800 fellow veterans a semester,” Dennis said.
The classes that Dennis is taking at WCCC are in photography and desktop publishing. He has already earned his associate degree and now is seeking his bachelor’s in the digital arts, which he intends to be his new career field.
“It’s never too late to learn and I don’t want to retire until I die!” said Dennis with a chuckle. “As long as you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.”
As Dennis’ financial situation continues to improve, he also hopes to become a homeowner. He has completed the Homebuyer Education class offered at Southwest Solutions, which will help him qualify for various homeownership incentives that are available. Dennis will actively look for a house after he acquires a car, which is another one of his goals.
“I will eventually leave Piquette Square, which has served me well, and give another veteran who had been homeless the chance to live here and do well, too,” said Dennis.