Gulf Coast Veterans & Friends has filled the gap left by the 2016 passing of Homer Helter, who was the embodiment of Patriotism. For 20 years, Homer and wife Diana’s Shirley Street Military Mall was the “official” unofficial meeting place for local Veterans spanning WWII to the War on Terror, as well as those currently serving our Country. The doors of Homer’s Military Mall were closed for the last time in April of 2018. We recognized the giant loss suffered by the local Veteran Alumni that gathered around Homer’s “Famous Table” and knew we had to rectify that … so Homer’s Annex was born.
Thanks to the generosity and patriotism of Fire Chief Jamie Cunningham of the North Naples Fire District, we have a new home for the “Famous Table” at Fire Station 48. Every Saturday between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. we provide our Veterans with bottomless coffee, pastries, a hot homemade meal, submarines and fruit – all free of charge – because we can never re-pay them for their Service and our Freedom.
Our program starts as we all stand and recite “The Pledge of Allegiance” and listen in solemn silence as a Veteran reads aloud the meaning and symbolism of the “Missing Man Table” which stands adjacent to the entrance and is set in honor of those that are currently missing from our midst as a result of their Service to our Nation. We then follow with informational announcements regarding local veteran events and benefits, as well as pertinent news. Perhaps most importantly, we provide an open forum in which our Veterans can share uplifting stories, concerns, or opportunities available to their fellow Comrades in Arms. The moment the Veterans walk through the door and enter Homer’s Annex they are looking for and greeting their friends with a smile, wave, or salute that is more often than not coupled with a jovial “smart remark” serving as their “Hello”. We can immediately see the visible release of stress, tension, and PTSD as they sit and fellowship with one another as only veterans can do. It is Gulf Coast Veterans & Friends distinct honor to provide and share in that wonderful experience.