Who We Are
The Name: IR-MIKLATO is a concept which can be traced back as far as 900 BC and has many Biblical references. The Hebrew phrase translates to English as “City Of Refuge.” In ancient times, IR-MIKLATO was a safe place for unjustly accused persons to escape stoning mobs. The phrase was originally selected in this case because it well described a shelter for the scorned homeless veterans of Vietnam.
Location: A City Of Refuge (COR) is a unique facility located at 5899 Highway 3112 (Old U.S. Hwy 90) in Southwest Louisiana and close to the Southeast Texas border. We are strategically located on 5 acres of land off US Interstate 10, approximately mid-way between Houston and New Orleans or Los Angeles and Miami. You can reach us by traveling I-10 to Louisiana exit #4, go north 1/4 mile and west 1 mile on Highway 3112 (old Highway 90), turn left at the median cross-over and cross over road on the left (south) side of the road.
History: Founded by Burton “Burt” Stigen (Bro. Burt) in 1986 as a shelter for homeless veterans and also, when space was available, other homeless persons who could follow the military-style rules. A meal is always available for any needy and hungry person who might drop in. For Burt and wife Denise, they regard COR as their calling from God Bro Burt acquired the Shady Rest Motel property on old Hwy 90 in Vinton, LA in 1985 on a lease./purchase arrangement and began allowing homeless Vietnam vets to stay in the old motel rooms shortly thereafter. In 1999, Burt retired from plant work and used his accumulated retirement funds to pay off the mortgage. Improvement of the facility became a high priority in 2005 when Hurricane Rita devastated the old Shady Rest buildings, the property and other portions of the landscape and forced a concentrated redevelopment of the property which continues today. As an accredited 501(3)c tax exempt organization that relies entirely on private donations – mostly from individuals, church groups, civic groups and veterans organizations.
First phase of the master plan for the five acres of land was construction of 10 cabins for housing. Those cabins have largely been completed through the efforts of those COR residents who are able-bodied as well as a variety of organizations, individuals and corporate grants. In the future, more cabins may be built on a different part of the property which would be designated for veteran families who come to the shelter from time to time. Information about the Facility: the facility is governed by its Director and Founder and his wife along with their Board of Directors and most importantly God. Currently, they have 13 sitting on the Board, consisting of former military, a retired Colonel, a minister whose two sons are military and their spouses.
All rules are adopted by the Board of Directors and while lengthy and precise relatively easy for those who are serious about a change in their life to follow.
Many residents arrive by referral, a phone call, the police, hospitals, prisons and even brought by others who have found the person alone, living on the street, walking down the road, in a soup kitchen, at their church, or who just stopped to inquire if they knew somewhere they could go. Some stay for a brief period, and some stay for an extended period of time. There is no time limit, although 7 days is often limited to those who are not Veterans and fail to adhere to the rules or have family members where they can go. No matter what the reason, we believe that no one comes to City of Refuge by accident but by Divine direction. All are treated equal and there is no discrimination. Because of the need for a larger facility we have been diligently seeking resources to make this a reality and to broaden the scope of what we do to help the Veterans and others..