David Lindsay, the son of a U.S. Air Force enlistee who served in three wars, has a soft heart for veterans in need.
“They fought for us and we’ll fight for them,” said Lindsay, who together with his wife, Connie, has made it his mission to come to the aid of homeless veterans throughout Hillsborough County.
In 2006, Connie Lindsay, formerly Connie Blaney, founded Liberty Manor on Ninth Street in Tampa, a transitional home for honorably discharged veterans who for myriad reasons found themselves living on the streets. In 2007, as CEO, she opened a second home on Myrtle Street in Temple Terrace. Both facilities are operated without government aid.
Over the years David Lindsay, an employee of Air Masters of Tampa Bay, also found himself absorbed in Liberty Manor’s quest to provide housing to veterans, subsidized in part by a portion of the men’s disability allotments. The objective is to aid each person toward self-sufficiency.
Since the couple’s marriage several months ago, they’ve followed their dream of establishing a thrift store to help defray the costs of operating both homes. Thanks to a multitude of in-kind contributions from supporters throughout the Tampa Bay area they recently opened the Veterans Thrift Store at 8423 N. Nebraska Ave. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s the first of its kind in Florida that we know of, and probably in the country,” David said.
It’s manned by Liberty Manor residents and stocked with an array of gently used electronic equipment, furniture, bedding, clothing, handbags, kitchen necessities, home décor items and more.
The Lindsays are especially grateful for the generous contributions from the Sons of Am Vets Post 26, GTE Federal Credit Union, LifePath Hospice and several area churches. They are also appreciative of the overflow storage space provided by Cesar Ruiz, owner of the adjacent Prestige Auto Collision Center.
Carrollwood Women’s Club members Kim Redd and Jackie Miller, who along with their fellow club mates have adopted Liberty Manor as one of the group’s charities, were also instrumental in the store’s set up, Connie Lindsay noted. Redd and her husband, Rick, even scouted out numerous dry cleaning facilities in search of clothes hangers.
“The great thing about it is that both of us are passionate about this charity,” Kim Redd said. “And I’m in such awe of Connie, who fights hard for those veterans and is a tough business woman.”
Miller agreed, saying she, too, feels obliged to help the once-homeless men get back on their feet.
“Most of these guys were in the Vietnam War and they got a raw deal anyway,” Miller said.
David Lindsay has high hopes the new venture will prove its worth. In the few weeks the store has been operational, sales have covered the cost of the building’s first month’s rent.
Liberty Manor resident Gary Cloyd, who recently relocated from Washington, D.C., had experience in retail merchandising and made it his responsibility to aesthetically arrange donated items for display. He also posts some of them on Craigslist.
Veteran John Turner said he was given a “new beginning” when he came to Liberty Manor eight years ago. With Connie Lindsay’s assistance he now receives a monthly disability check and has since transitioned out of the home to make room for others in need.
But he stays closely connected with the Lindsays and his fellow veterans at the homes. He’s also made it his calling to help out wherever he’s needed at the new thrift store.
“When I was homeless they were there to give me a hand up and now I am able to give back,” he said.
David Lindsay sees the venture as a win-win for all involved, noting it adds a sense of purpose to the lives of Liberty Manor residents and aids men who’ve been stabilized and are ready to live on their own by granting them, free of charge, first dibs on furniture and other household items in the store.
Plus shoppers, he said, get some awesome deals. Just ask Charles Hawkins, 25, who just moved into an apartment nearby.
“The prices here can’t be beat and I appreciate that it helps the veterans,” said Hawkins, as Cloyd helped him load up his purchase of dishes, pots and pans and a TV stand for his kids.
Free pickup of donated items is available seven days a week at the donors’ convenience. Call (813) 477-0203 or email [email protected] Visit www.libertymanor.org to learn more about the organization.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]