This adventure all started when I was driving around the West Los Angeles VA. I was on my way to the long-term care unit (where I’m a hospice volunteer with the Twilight Brigade) when it struck me. The Wadsworth Chapel needs painted.
So began my mission to restore faith and honor to the West Los Angeles VA.
My adventure has unfolded as hundreds of phone calls, dozens of letters, 8 congressional office meetings, a slew of setbacks, a big fat pile of bureaucratic red tape and a hope and a prayer. Somewhere along the line I realized the significance of this little chapel. It’s everything this country stand for. And preserving it with a protective coat of paint is worth the fight.
A Happy History Turned Bad
The oldest building at the West Los Angeles VA is a fixer-upper of a most unusual sort. Until the 1971 Sylmar earthquake forced its closing, the Wadsworth Chapel, completed in 1900, provided dual sanctuaries separated by a double brick wall that also served to deaden the organ rumblings that emanated from either side. At the north end, old soldiers worshiped in a Catholic chapel; at the south end, they prayed as Protestants.
As the oldest building on one of the city’s most prominent and famous boulevards, it’s of critical importance.”
Jay Platt, Los Angeles Conservancy
Since being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, however, the building has deteriorated markedly. Intruders have set fires, burning holes in the floors and scorching wood wainscoting and pews. Empty beef jerky bags, discarded underwear and clumps of plaster litter the worn burgundy carpeting. Frayed, forlorn and peeling, the chapel needs some serious help.
The VA estimates a complete restoration would cost $11.5 million. Of course, such a restoration is not reasonable at taxpayer expense. However, we do not need to do everything at once. We can take the first step of restoration right now. By painting the chapel we achieve the highest restorative impact for the lowest price.
Truly, painting the chapel will transform and restore it to what it once was; a monument to God, country and the heroes who fought (and continue to fight) to protect honor, freedom and all of us.
How You Can Help
The Twilight Brigade (hospice volunteers) and Vet to Vet (veteran work and rehabilitation) are 501(c)(3) non-profits supporting this project. Our goal with this project is to create jobs for veterans with painting skills who live in the dormitory on the VA campus. The chapel painting is part of a broader “campus restoration” aimed to help put vets to work. If you would like to help support the chapel preservation you can donate to the Twilight Brigade. When you send the money, be sure to mark the purpose of it for “Wadsworth Chapel Preservation.”
Update: We had plans to start painting on Veterans Day (11/11/11) but the bureaucratic have yet again put up the red tape. We are doing everything we can to get the chapel painted. Please keep this project in your thoughts and prayers. To learn more visit my article on HuffingtonPost or join the Chapel Painting Facebook Group.
Picture Source:LA Times