Habitat for Humanity Partners with Home
Depot – Spotlighting Nine Veterans
From September 11, 2016 through November 11, 2016 Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area was fortunate enough to work alongside local Home Depot Associates towards the Home Preservations, known as a Brush With Kindness Initiative of nine U.S. Military Veterans and their families. This funding was made possible by The Home Depot Foundation. These projects range from landscaping, to planting flowers, shrubs, bulbs, installing chain link fencing and privacy fencing, the installation of a new front porch and steps, cutting grass, weeding, trimming bushes, power washing and staining decks, shoring up deck stairs, installing new downspouts, solar lights, a new mailbox and post to removing a brush.
Please take your time to read the individual Bio’s of the Veterans we were able to support, and take this Veteran’s Day to thank our Hometown Hero’s.
91 Year Old World War II Veteran
A 91 year old World War II Veteran lives with his 88 year old wife Ruth in a mobile home within a small senior development community. Beginning marriage in 1942, two weeks prior to the husband received his second draft notice and was asked to serve this nation as a medic for the Army Air Force. They spent their first year as newlyweds apart with a deployment in Stone, England for more than a year and the wife working at a shoe factory in their hometown. After 18 months of separation, the couple was reunited and the husband continued to serve in the military domestically for a year and a half. Following his military career, the Veteran went on to work on the civilian side for 58 years before retiring from Continental Motors. The couple’s three children have left the nest to give them seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. The couple continues to be active within their community. They have lived in this modest home for seventeen years and continually describe it as spacious and comfortable; however, as their physical mobility becomes more limited, the steep stairs leading from their home present an increasingly threatening safety hazard. To make the home more livable we were able our team was able to construct a handicapped accessible ramp and repairs to the back steps to see them through as they grow old together, in addition to landscaping around the entire home.
Veteran inspired by Pearl Harbor
When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, scores of Americans were inspired to join the military to serve and defend their country. This Veteran itched to be one of those Americans, but he had to wait until 1944, when he turned 17, and enlisted in the Navy. He was assigned as a Seaman First Class to the USS Arikara. His most memorable military experience is weathering a typhoon off the coast of the Philippines. For almost two days, he and his shipmates were thrown around the ship. Unsure whether they would make it through, they wrote farewell letters back home. An additional remarkable story involves his twin brother who was drafted shortly after the first enlisted. Out for his birthday on leave in Okinawa, our partner veteran was shocked to run into his brother. They were overjoyed to be able to celebrate their birthday together far from home. After the war ended and he completed his tour of duty this seamen returned home to lead a civilian life. He raised five children with his wife of 47 years and worked as a machine operator. Unfortunately, his wife passed away in 1996 due to cancer. Later on, the veteran suffered a
nerve injury as part of a hip replacement surgery. He now walks with a cane and is unable to engage in his favorite hobbies- fishing and golfing. The veteran has been remarried for nine years to a woman who bears the same name as his first wife, they live in a well-maintained mobile home in a small neighborhood outside of Harrisburg City. There are several projects that the Home Depot Partnership with Harrisburg Habitat was able to complete for the couple, most notably a roof replacement. These necessary repairs will improve their quality of life and ensure their residence in a decent home.
William Penn High School Veteran
This veteran graduated from William Penn High. Before joining the Marine Corps he worked as a machinist. In1974 he joined the Marines. He joined the Marines because he believed they were the toughest of the services and he served diligently until completion of his enlistment contract. A lot of opportunities were offered because of his service. The Veteran received a para-legal certification at Rutgers University and Business degree at HACC. He went on to be a very active member of the Harrisburg community, volunteering and up starting several initiatives for the youth of the area. Along the way he has received recognition from the Governor, Mayor and other dignitaries.
Veteran with 12 brothers and sisters
This veteran was born in Harrisburg, PA, to a family of six brothers and seven sisters. At the age of 18, instead of leaving for college as planned, unbeknownst to her siblings she enlisted in the Army during Vietnam. The recruiter made me feel comfortable and put everything in writing. My MOS was Neuropsych. After completing basic training in the state of Alabama the Veteran was stationed in Ord, CA. She went onto use the GI Bill to attend school at Mercy County where she completed earned a degree in the study of Humanities. She continued her education locally at Elizabethtown College, with an additional degree in Business Administration. After the death of her husband she started she a small non-profit to help families and youth but wasn’t able to sustain it. In 2011 she earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Grand Canyon University and is currently taking steps towards a doctorate in Education Corporate Leadership. After completion of her Doctorate, this veteran wants to start her non-profit business back up.
At the age of 17 this veteran attended Temple University, majoring in Sports Radio. With a change of heart he decided to leave and enroll at Thaddeus Stevens Tech, where he earned his Associates Degree in Applied Science. After graduating, he then went on to attend Cheney University and graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology. After college he tried out for the NFL hoping to get in as a walk in, but that didn’t happen. Finally at the age of 24, he stumbled upon an Army Recruiter at a local mall. In 2009 he completed basic training at Fort Benning, GA where he made “super soldier”. He would soon find himself flying to Kuwait. Once back, he was offered training in the Airborne School and recalls wanting to become Special Forces.
Unfortunately he suffered a career ending injury, after hitting the ground pretty hard while jumping during a training exercise after his parachute got tangled. He met his wife from Lancaster, which bought him to this area.
Alabama born Veteran
This Veteran was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1937. After graduating high school at 17 he enlisted into the Army in July of 1954 where he was shipped to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for basic training. After basic training, he wanted to become a transportation specialist and after a period of time he was able to complete transportation school. He then went into infantry as a heavy weapons specialist and was a 4.2 mortar gunner. This veteran was inducted during the Korean War but was shipped to Alaska for Operation Snowbird and while there suffered a frostbite injury. After being discharged in Fort Louis, he spent five years in the Reserves. In the 1970’s his grandmother became sick and he traveled to Harrisburg, PA to see her before she passed away. He soon settled down in Harrisburg where he had a career as a mason. This veteran is also a proud father to 11 children.
This recently married, Marine veteran joined Corps at the age of 24 because his wife said the Marines fit his character traits. Sean recognized the qualities of a holistic life of service, sacrifice, dedication and commitment and that appealed to him. It was the toughest, most difficult way he could imagine serving. The Marine Corps offered “the few, the proud,” and boasted “earned, never given”. The veteran served during the Kosovo war, where he was part of two Mediterranean Floats. The second one was when the Kosovo war ignited. He has memories of being with Christians in prayer on the deck of the ship, when the sky seemed like dawn breaking the horizon. But there was no dawn, it was the middle of the night. The light touched them, connecting them to the suffering on the ground, as well as the planes they supported in the sky. Receiving lots and lots of letters kept the veteran centered on his life wherever he was. He still has them. The veteran graduated from Arizona State University and eventually returned to service once more as a pastor. The veteran worked with Habitat for Humanity while overseas, offering service as an electrician. In 2004, the veteran moved his wife, daughter and parents to PA. He currently is battling stage IV cancer but continues to attend seminary school and remain prayerful.
This veteran was born and raised in Harrisburg, PA where she attended William Penn Vo-Tech High School. After graduating she attended Bennett College for one year. She then entered the US Navy from 1994 through 1998. Leaving the military was a tough decision for her. After several acts of gun violence in her neighborhood that left her home in the cross fire, this veteran joined a local community action group, and supported awareness for ending gun violence in our community. This veteran continues to be active in the community and her home and personal endeavors are a testament to the impact grassroots efforts can have in the community.
This veteran lives in a small mobile home community in Middletown, PA. Born in Harrisburg in 1949 one of seven children. By the time he was 23, he had lost five of his brothers and countless friends in the Vietnam War. After returning from 3 ½ years of service in the Army Special Forces, including six months as a Prisoner of War. When he returned to Pennsylvania, the veteran met his wife. In 14 years of marriage, before she passed in 1989, they raised eight children, including two sets of twins. Six of those children joined the military themselves. Steven counts 48 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren. He worked a series of jobs, often two at a time, including at Bethlehem Steel, as a cab driver, and at the New Cumberland Army Depot, until he suffered a heart attack in 2009. The veteran received several medals marking his service in the Vietnam campaign. Sadly, they were lost along with his home in the historic Johnstown Flood of 1977.