American Veterans First (AVF) will be conducting business at a new location, yet still calling Riverbank home, now operating at 6436 Oakdale Road. AVF President John Hinkel and Founder Duke Cooper along with new board members have a larger space to offer the veteran community more opportunities for service.
During the last few months of 2020, the local AVF was informed that the building they occupied was going to be redeveloped. This put the organization on the hunt for a new place to call home. The search led them to many different locations in Oakdale and Riverbank.
After several weeks of searching with no prospects in sight, the future was looking dreary for AVF as they continued striking out. Then the New Year with new hopes led them to the location on Oakdale Road. They will be sharing the new location with Mid-Cal Blue Star Moms out of Oakdale and Vietnam Veterans of America.
They are still moving things into the new location which has generated some new visions of a coffee bar, conference table, and food pantry. With the new space they are also thinking about setting up some computers that people can use to apply for jobs or if they need help filling out forms from Veterans Affairs (VA) but those are ideas for the future. First they need to complete their move and settle in.
The panels that are known as the Wall of Honor has names listed of those that were killed in action. The Wall of Honor has several panels that are displayed in a circle as they were meant to be and is a focal point when entering the new spot. They were displayed along the walls at the old location on Patterson Road as there was not enough room to display them in a circle.
They have been in the process of moving things into the new location and they were told about an Army veteran in need of assistance. Clyde Simpson served in World War II and Korea. He resides down the street from their new location and needed some help. AVF was able to pay some of his bills from a grant they received and presented him with some food gift cards to get him through the month. It did not take them long to do what they do best: helping veterans in need.
With the determination from Hinkel, Cooper and the new board they see a bright future ahead and have plans to celebrate the new location with a grand opening celebration on Saturday, Feb. 27 from noon to 2 p.m., including a ribbon cutting, refreshments and with safety protocols in place.
American Veterans First has been headquartered in Riverbank since 2016.