Saturday was “Gary Gaal Day” in Fairfax County, by formal proclamation. And what did Gary Gaal do on “Gary Gaal Day”? He studied and volunteered his time, as usual, at the Franconia Volunteer Fire Department.
The retired Army lieutenant colonel has volunteered nearly 19,000 hours of his time over the years, both with the Fairfax County Fire Department and another local public safety agency, which didn’t want to be named. He’s a certified emergency medical technician and also works the ski patrol at Wintergreen Resort in central Virginia.
So when Case Design/Remodeling of Bethesda was looking for a worthy volunteer to receive a free “extreme exterior home makeover” worth $100,000, they selected Gaal for his service to country and community. And in three weeks, Case transformed Gaal’s 39-year-old home from an aging siding-and-brick house to a shingle-and-stone stunner.
“It’s fabulous,” said Gaal, 60, who lives off Telegraph Road in the Alexandria area of Fairfax with his wife, Luise. He noted that “the windows are phenomenal,” and during the recent hurricane, “I didn’t even know there was a storm outside.”
Here’s what the Gaals’ home looked like before Case arrived. For more photos and background on how all this came together, continue after the jump.
Case actually got the materials for this makeover in another giveaway. Ply Gem, a manufacturer of siding, fencing, stone veneer, windows, doors and pretty much all your exterior needs, based in Cary, N.C., awarded Case $50,000 worth of materials in its annual Designed Exterior Giveaway. Also included in that package were the architectural services of Deryl Patterson of BSB Design of Jacksonville, Fla.Case then turned around and searched for a worthy recipient — who also had to have the right type of house — to receive the Ply Gem materials, said Case senior vice president Rick Matus.
Word of Case’s search reached Gaal, who said he suggested his house might be the right kind. Bruce Case, the president of the company, came to interview him, “and he said right there in the living room,” Gaal recalled, “‘We’re going to award this to you.’ Wow.”
Case donated another $50,000 for labor. The architect Patterson sketched three schemes for the Gaals to review, as well as some new color schemes, and the Gaals wound up with natural cedar-colored shingle siding and red shutters over pre-cast stones, as well as a new roof, solar attic fan and new garage doors.
Gaal spent 20 years in the Army, retired in 1994 and then began working as a contractor for the Army. In 1996, he went through the fire academy and began working as a paramedic on Fairfax County fire apparatus out of the Franconia station. He also went through the police academy, Gaal said, and continues to hold a full-time job. He was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and helped coordinate the internal response.
He’s had paramedic training since his days as an Eagle Scout, and continues to maintain his certification. That’s why he had to study Saturday, “Gary Gaal Day,” because his test was Sunday. He also was going to head to the Franconia fire station in case the Saturday night Bingo game needed a hand.
Fairfax County declared Gaal a “Community Champion,” and supervisor Jeff McKay had this proclamation entered for Gaal:
“WHEREAS in 1997, Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Gary Gaal became an auxiliary police officer and armed special weapons and tactics instructor with the Fairfax County Police Department, and an emergency medical technician instructor with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, and currently serves as assistant chief of the Franconia Volunteer Fire Department, and
WHEREAS Gary Gaal has provided nearly 19,000 hours to police and fire departments for the last 15 years, worked with New York Police Department auxiliary and reserve units for officers killed in the line of duty and served as a volunteer with the National Ski Patrol on their Wintergreen Resort ski patrol for 16 years, and
WHEREAS Gary Gaal was recognized as a community champion by the Volunteer Fairfax in April 2011 and will be recognized for his volunteer work with Case Design/Remodeling, which is making exterior improvements to his home now,
THEREFORE Be it resolved that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of all residents of Fairfax County, does hereby proclaim Saturday, September 17, 2011, Gary Gaal Day for his outstanding dedication to community and many years of noteworthy volunteer service.”