Capital District Women Veterans celebrates ribbon cutting for Christopher House | Local News
TROY, N.Y. — Retired Col. Christine Rem, founder and executive director of the Capital District Women Veterans, Inc. (CDWV), achieved a big step forward on Saturday for her project, Christopher House.
The building, which will be a supportive housing home for women veterans when it opens, just received its Certificate of Occupancy from the city. Rem celebrated with a ribbon cutting for the building, and was joined by many city and state officials and fellow veterans.
The celebration was held at the Polish American club on 1st St., just two doors down from Christopher House. After the posting of the colors, pledge of allegiance, and singing of the national anthem, former mayor of Troy Louis Rosamilia spoke of the project’s origins. Rem had come to Rosamilia while he was in office and told him she wanted to use her childhood home as a homeless shelter for women veterans.
He was fully on board with the idea, and support for the project carried over to current mayor Patrick Madden’s time in office.
“To say that Christine is uniquely qualified for this position is an understatement,” said Rosmalia, talking about Rem’s decades of service in the Army, multiple degrees in nursing sciences, and Bronze Star Medal.
When he introduced her to talk about Christopher House, Rem received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Rem named Christopher House after her late husband Major Christopher Rem, who she spoke of as “my best friend, who encouraged me every day.”
Christopher House is the first of its kind. More than simply community housing, it will provide services to residents through the CDWV to assist them with job placement, mental and physical wellness, education, health care access, and more.
According to a recent survey by the Dept. of VA, US Bureau of Statistics, HUD, Dept. of Labor, women veterans are two to three times more likely to become homeless than any other group in the US adult population. Four thousand, three hundred and thirty eight women veterans in the U.S. are reported homeless, though it is suspected that the actual number may be higher.
As she spoke about Christopher House, Rem pointed out that she had chosen to wear her combat fatigues – her work uniform – to the event, symbolizing the great amount of work that had been done and still to come for women veterans.
“Thank you for your vision, addressing a phenomenon unfortunately occurring and ongoing in our society,” U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam) said to Rem. “Never ever should the words ‘homeless’ and ‘veteran’ occur in the same phrase. It’s a phrase that we must eradicate.”
Assemblyman John McDonald (D-Cohoes) spoke to Rem as one health care professional to another, about the importance of comprehensive care management.
“Thank you for looking at all the social determinants of health,” he said. “We look forward to greater success in years to follow.”
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin praised Rem’s never-ending journey to make Christopher House a reality.
“This is just fantastic,” he said. “I’m very proud to see this come to fruition.”
“We’re grateful for you to be serving our community,” said Madden. “The addition of Christopher House is another important tool in our toolbox to support those who have given their all for our country.”
Rem received certificates of recognition for the Christopher House from Madden and county legislators Dan Casale and Carole Weaver.
After the celebration, the ribbon was cut for Christopher House and tours of the building were offered. While the building is ready for occupancy, it is in need of furnishings and supplies. Rem will be putting together a fundraising campaign soon, and donations are welcome.
To learn more about Christopher House, CDWV, and how to donate or support, visit https://www.cdwv.org/ or contact Rem at email@example.com.