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Hiking for Homeless Heroes

Christian Jamieson, seated with his backpack. Marine reservist Christian Jamieson will carry his 100-pound backpack to raise money for homeless veterans in Clark County on May 20.

Clark sophomore, student ambassador and Marine Lance Corporal Christian Jamieson will lug a 100-pound backpack on a seven-hour trek around campus on the Blue Penguin Pathway May 20 to raise money for housing homeless veterans in Clark County.

Jamieson will be donating all proceeds to a GoFundMe account set up by PureKraze, a nonprofit organization founded by Vietnam veteran and Clark alumni Michael Stacey, seeking to solve veteran homelessness in Vancouver by building “Veteran’s Village.”

Nearly 52,000 veterans are without a home nationwide, down 17.2 percent from 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Clark County Veterans Assistance Center helped about 43 homeless veterans in April, according to office manager Tena Abbey.

Stacey’s nonprofit purchased property on St. James Road in Vancouver aiming to start building a village of micro-homes in November. The first dozen 192-square-foot homes are planned to go to homeless female veterans, as they are often victims of violence and sexual assault while living on the street.

According to PureKraze, homeless veterans will help build the micro-homes, giving them a job, teaching them a skill and giving them a home. “Veterans Village” will eventually offer 24/7 security, as well as programs for drug and alcohol counseling and transitioning back to civilian life.

Jamieson said the cause resonates with him because of the many homeless veterans in Vancouver, some of whom are Clark students.

“It’s extremely hard to get a job or an education when you’re sleeping on the streets,” Jamieson said. “Giving them a safe place to stay that’s out of the elements can be the first step into getting them out of poverty.”

Six months after launching the GoFundMe account, PureKraze raised only $240 out of their $30,000 goal. With money being pledged per mile, Jamieson hopes to raise a few hundred dollars. He will be fundraising through the Veteran’s Club and hopes to be sponsored by a variety of individuals and organizations in the Portland and Vancouver area, such as the Community Military Appreciation Committee.

“I’m trying to bring attention to this problem,” Jamieson said. “We’re not going to be able to raise all the money, but what we can do is help spread the word and get his story out. Maybe after many small contributions, they can get those veterans off the street.”

Stacey said PureKraze will have representatives at the event with fliers, and the organization will likely present Jamieson with a certificate for his efforts.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Stacey said. “I’d like to thank him for what he’s doing.”

Kelly Jones, the Veterans Resource Center manager, said she presented the idea of fundraising for PureKraze to Jamieson when he expressed interest in doing something to help local veterans last quarter.

“We have very limited … shelters for our veterans,” Jones said. “In light of all the states that have made a pact with the VA to end veteran homelessness, [Jamieson] decided that he would walk in support of this and then donate everything to the veterans village.”

“We’re proud of him,” Jones said. “He’s a good guy; a good marine.”

Jamieson hopes that along with money, he will raise awareness about veteran homelessness in Clark County.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to be such an unusual sight on campus – a Marine in his daisy dukes of freedom, Marine Corps PT shorts,” Jamieson said. “And that it generates a little buzz and can get people talking.”

About Emily A. Hancock (15 Articles)
I'm an addict with a pen. Questioning authority since 1998.

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