Homeless veterans camp in Barnegat NJ comes to Yobuck Landscaping land
BARNEGAT – For motorists in cars, trucks, and tractor-trailers whizzing down Route 72, Marty Weber’s nearby property appears to be just another wooded piece of land.
But as he walks through the area – through his back yard, through the parking lot of his landscaping firm, and into an already cleared lot – Weber can see what it means to be a legacy.
It’s not his legacy, however: “It’s meant to keep Jeff’s legacy alive,” Weber said.
This is Jeff’s Camp named after Jeff Poissant, Weber’s 31-year-old partner who died of bladder cancer in 2016.
On Thursday, Weber signed the first paperwork that will eventually transfer his 36-acre property to Just Believe, a nonprofit in Toms River that will transform the site into a shelter for homeless veterans, especially those who are addicted or mentally ill Suffering from problems.
Now the organization has begun raising funds for the estimated $ 2.5 million project to build and provide preliminary funding to operate Jeff’s Camp. A building fundraiser and charity golf event will be held in August.
“It makes the dream come true for all of us,” said Paul Hulse, president and co-founder of Just Believe.
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Poissant, whom Weber met during his military service in the 1980s, had bladder problems for years that went undetected in numerous Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. When he was admitted to Jefferson University Hospital in 2016, doctors discovered the tumor on his bladder that would eventually kill him.
“He was killed by the US government and the VA. The VA just didn’t help,” Weber said. “I still cry every day.”
After Poissant’s death, Weber saw the property they lived on and ran their business both to honor his partner’s legacy and to serve those he believed the VA had let down
It’s the next step in what Weber sees as the completion of a mission that Poissant always talked about: helping veterans when they get home.
“If I had died, he would have done the same,” Weber said.
A sober six- or seven-bedroom home is planned especially for veterans who are often grouped with other addicts but deal with separate issues due to their military experience.
“These are people who fought overseas, they fought wars and it’s a bigger fight for them – the PTSD, the sleepless nights,” said Hulse. “When veterans can work together, the services we can offer are really just building.”
The site will also include an 8,000-square-foot building with a center operated by Marlton-based New Life Medical Addiction Services that will be staffed and veteran counseling, addiction and veteran support group meetings, and a thrift store serviced on site, said Hulse.
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“Veterans have the option to volunteer for the business, find employment, and get back to work on a schedule,” said Hulse. “You are relearning social skills. There is a lot of life coaching that is beneficial for rebuilding self-esteem.”
And when Weber dies, his house on the property will also be donated to Just Believe and converted into another sober apartment building.
As the site is part of the Pinelands National Reserve, future development is likely to be limited and subject to Pinelands Commission approval. Instead, Jeff’s camp will lean into its surroundings – with paths named after soldiers killed in action that connect the sober apartment buildings to the treatment center.
“We want to keep it as a refuge,” said Hulse. “We don’t want to get rid of the feeling that this is a warehouse.”
Mike Davis has spent the last decade covering local New Jersey news, marijuana legalization, transportation, and basically everything else going on at any given point in time. Contact him at email@example.com or @byMikeDavis on Twitter.