"I had a vision at 4:30 in the morning on June 24, 2011," recalls Doug Friend. "I just laid in bed and thought about it and immediately started to write a business plan. God provided me the answers."
Doug Friend is the CEO and founder of Heroes Coming Home, a non-profit organization whose mission is to vastly improve the quality of life for local veterans by providing housing and aid in their transition of living happy and healthy civilian lives, according to their website. On that specific time and date was when his plan to help homeless veterans came to fruition.
"You want to try and take care of your own," explains Friend on why he founded Heroes Coming Home. Being a former veteran and even experiencing a period of homelessness himself, he felt compelled to help fellow veterans.
The philanthropist was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and worked as a unit diary clerk. He later continued serving the Corps as a civilian employee for an additional 14 years in administration. But tragedy struck Friend nearly 15 years ago when his 18-year-old son passed away, followed by the events on September 11, 2001.
"I experienced a series of my own personal tragedies," stated Friend. "It was just not the best time in my life."
Coping with those events, Friend found himself homeless. During that time, he realized he wasn’t the only veteran experiencing similiar circumstances.
In America, "33 percent of all the homeless are veterans," said Friend. Eventually he regained control of his life and found employment. Reflecting on his time without a home, he became a member of the Independence Hungry and Homeless Coalition.
"There are over thousands of homeless veterans within the greater Kansas City area," claims Friend.
This past Saturday, Heroes Coming Home hosted a benefit concert at the Truman Memorial Building that featured local band "Right on Red." It raised hundreds of dollars in both food and monetary donations for the area veterans.
"It was fun and a blast," says Friend. "The biggest thing I’ve seen from the concert was the exposure and having people step up to help veterans." He also said that people in attendance even donated building materials and supplies for a construction project.
Heroes Coming Home’s current project is the construction of a duplex near Walnut Road in Independence. Pat Turner from Habitat for Humanity donated to the project by providing building materials and supplies, Friend said. "We’re also currently in talks of building housing on property graciously donated by a former co-worker of mine in southern Jackson County," saidFriend.
"There’s a need where ever we go," said Friend. He hopes that Heroes Coming House expands outside of the Kansas City region and provides additional services for homeless veterans such as food aid and job placement programs.
If you would like to donate to Heroes Coming Home, visit their website at www.heroescominghome.org.