Kennedy House Grand Opening
Kennedys present for ribbon cutting at veteran shelter.

Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 1:00 am

It is always kind to welcome strangers into your home, but for a few local veterans who had a large crowd over last week, just having a home to welcome them into is something to be grateful for.

A grand opening celebration for the Kennedy House veteran shelter took place on Dec. 17 to recognize all the work that has been done on what was formerly Barney Kennedy’s shoe and leather shop, which Kennedy agreed to sell to the Open Hands Outreach Program at a discounted cost so the veteran organization could use it to house homeless vets.

There are now five people who live in the house, and they will now have a more comfortable situation thanks to a large weatherization project at the Kennedy House. The project, funded by APS and coordinated by CAHRA, re-roofed the house, installed a new air conditioning system, added insulation to the building. 

“This building was constructed in the 1950s when energy sustainability wasn’t even a thought,” said Ken Pancost, owner of Arizona Energy Management, which led the implementation of the project. “We reduced a yearly amount of 148 tons of carbon dioxide, 176 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 328 bound of nitrous dioxide. W basically took one car off the road for a year and a half and made the property 32 percent more energy efficient.”

Richard Rosales of APS said his company got involved in the project because of the vast amount of veterans who work for the company.

“Veterans are an integral part of APS’ workforce,” Rosales said. “APS benefits from the skills, knowledge and work ethic that veterans bring to their job everyday.”

Diann Lesueur, the president and CEO of OHOP, was emotional as she thanked everyone for making this house a success.

“There are 19,000 veterans in Pinal County, and we know a good portion of them are living below the poverty line, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless,” Lesueur said. “Thanks to your support, now some of these veterans have a place to stay for as long as they want.”

The highlight of the event was the appearance of Kennedy himself, who game his thoughts on what has become of the place he used to call him home.

“Thank you for coming,” Kennedy said. “I hope this here is good for some person who is in need of a place to stay.”