New grant helps upgrade MAVRC

Candice Stilwell

Military & Veterans Resource Center, Dec. 17, 2023, at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. | Caleb Flegel/The Whitworthain

The Military and Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC) is undergoing renovations with a goal to put in a Flexlift, a staircase that can unfold to a ramp when needed. This project was recently funded by the Local Heroes Grant by Gesa Credit Union. 

The MAVRC, founded by Air Force veteran Phil Labrie, is a multifaceted resource for students who are veterans, related to someone who is a veteran or in active duty. Labrie initially worked under the Whitworth University School of Continuing Studies with veterans, but now works in undergraduate studies.  

Labrie was hired five years ago for this position, and three years later Whitworth purchased a house dedicated to veterans. The lounge space in the HUB proved to be unhelpful for veterans and their families.  

“The feedback I got from our military connected students or veterans was it didn’t really feel like a space for them because a lot of students accessed it that weren’t necessarily veterans or military connected,” said Labrie. “It was kind of loud and it just didn’t feel very welcoming to veterans.” 

Now that there is a designated place for veterans and their families, the MAVRC can now offer a safe space for them to relax. It also offers various resources like connections to support systems such as the Spokane Veterans Center and the Mann-Grandstaff Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center.

“I really wanted them to have a space where they felt comfortable and at home, which is why I pushed to create the MAVRC,” said Labrie.

According to Labrie, putting in a Flexlift is needed because the space they are working with will not fit a normal ramp, so a changeable system like the Flexlift is necessary. With the total cost remaining at $60,000, the $25,000 Gesa grant is helpful. 

Labrie has received the Gesa grant before and used it to refurbish the bathroom in the MAVRC to make it ADA compliant thanks to $15,000 grant from Gesa.   

While Labrie does admit there are not any disabled veterans currently at Whitworth, he still feels this is an important goal for the MAVRC. 

“I’m not aware of any veteran or military type student that has ADA needs. But there will come a day when I have a veteran that served that needs access. And I want to be ready,” said Labrie.

The remaining money needed for the ramp is being crowdsourced and donations are welcome by any who are willing and able. Donations can be made at the bottom of the MAVRC’s webpage. “It’s the least we can do. I mean, we owe them so much,” said Labrie. 

2 Replies to “New grant helps upgrade MAVRC”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *