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Family Of Veterans Evicted On Veterans Day

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As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.

A family of six in Avon Park, Fla., was kicked out of its home on a day when two of them should have been honored, reports Gary Pinnell of Highlands Today. Don Cook Jr., a former nurse, retired five years ago so he could stay at home with his wife and two kids and care for his ailing parents, but an aggressive mortgage lender foreclosed on them Wednesday and may scatter the family.

In June the Cooks made one late mortgage payment, for which the bank charged them a $1,200 penalty, and demanded another payment immediately. Don Jr. and his father, both veterans, were working with the Veteran's Administration as well as ACORN and a real estate agent, Maria Castilow, to try and restructure the loan. But Tuesday afternoon the foreclosure was filed behind their backs, said Castilow, and a notice was posted informing the Cooks that they had to be out by 2:00 p.m. on Veteran's Day. "I'm really caught in the middle," she said. "It's not anything I control. But my heart goes out to [Don Jr.]. He's absolutely right; it's Veteran's Day, and there are two veterans in the house."

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The city of Juneau, AK., has decided to keep open a campground through the winter because of the high number of homeless inhabitants, reports Eric Morrison for the Juneau Empire. The Thane Campground usually closes at the end of November, but due to the razing of a nearby tent city on Thursday, it is staying open to accommodate the many homeless with nowhere to go. Homeless shelters in the city have already filled to capacity. The campground's fee has also been halved for the cold months: down from $100 to $50 per month.

"It's a beautiful campground," described Dave Randlett, 58, who has been living there for the past year. Without it, as Michael Talton, 58, said: "I have absolutely nowhere to go. Nowhere."

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A pit bill who spends two days a week helping therapy patients, and the rest of her time as a service dog, is being saved from cancer thanks to an anonymous donor, reports Kyle Porter of the Twin Cities' KARE. Ruby was a foster dog, found by Patrick Bettendorf in an abandoned home. Since then she has been helping people, and her face was recently chosen to be placed on the front of boxes for a popular brand of dog treats. But, like many pit bulls, Ruby was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. It was removed in September, but doctors fear the cancer cells will return.

Bettendorf was laid off last year, and could not afford the medical bills. Only the help of an anonymous donor -- willing to pay up to $9,000 for the dog's future procedures -- saved her life. The donor "saw [Ruby]... and considered [her] as one of the most important dogs of the breed in the country to change people's minds about Pit Bulls," Bettendorf said.

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Travers Marshall has been trying to secure a stable job by enrolling in a 28-week construction apprenticeship program, reports Layton Ehmke of Medill Reports. He joined 19 other men in the program, sponsored by the Chicago Urban League, and admits that he, as an African American, faces a significantly tougher challenge than many other job-seekers. Across the country the unemployment rate for African Americans is 15.7 percent, much higher than the national average.

Marshall lost his job eight months ago and has been looking ever since. He decided to enroll in the apprenticeship because, as he said, "I've been looking for a steady job and thought I'd pick up a trade. It's something I've always wanted to do, get a trade under my belt so I can always find work."


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