A Dream Came True

Karen Kuciver holds the Wendy's Boutique sign as she begins work on organizing the thrift shop. (Photo by Peggy McGee)

Karen Kuciver holds the Wendy’s Boutique sign as she begins work on organizing the thrift shop. (Photo by Peggy McGee)

Peggy McGee

Ten years ago, Karen Kuciver was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and living on the streets. Her future was less than dim, but then what seemed like a miracle happened. Karen decided to turn her life around when she was threatened once again with losing her employment. That would mean losing another home and once again becoming homeless. She was tired of living in constant fear of trying to find that next drink or drug.

After becoming sober, Karen married her high school sweetheart who happened to be a veteran. Two years into their marriage, her husband was deemed terminally ill and was considered permanently and totally disabled. Maybe that was what planted the idea in her brain of doing something to help veterans. She focused her attention on helping homeless female veterans because she had once been a homeless female on Tucson’s streets.

Today Karen has a college degree in Human Services and has turned a negative portion of her life into something very positive. In 2016, she founded Women Warriors with the sole purpose of helping homeless female veterans turn their lives around, get into housing, complete their education if necessary, learn job skills, and eventually enter the ranks of the employed. Women Warriors offers job skills training, job search assistance, and resume preparation help to those in its program. Parenting skills training is available for those with children.

Karen had been on the lookout for a building to offer their many services for almost a year when she located a property for rent in Tucson. She found it in September, and she and her volunteers immediately went to work, painting the interior to make it inviting to those she serves. The facility has space for an office for resource agencies such as the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, Department of Economic Security, Arizona at Work, and Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System. The other rooms will provide a break area, food, hygiene, baby item pantry, counseling, and personal services such as haircuts, massages, and makeovers.

The facility’s focal point is a 600 sq. ft. room that will house Wendy’s Collection Boutique. The boutique will provide female veterans with everyday clothing as well as interview and job attire for free. Wendy’s Thrift Shop opened to the public for shopping on Nov. 2.

Some of the profits will enable Karen to pay the salaries for the formerly homeless veterans as they gain on-the-job experience working in the thrift shop, while the remainder will go directly back into the Women Warriors Program.

Items needed to make the pantry viable include diapers, non-perishable foods, grooming supplies, feminine hygiene items, and pet supplies.

If you are in the Tucson area, you are invited to drop in and see Karen’s dream in reality, shop, or make donations. The facility is located at 5851 E. Speedway Blvd Suite 141 in the rear of the strip mall. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.