Five years after he was critically wounded in Baghdad, Springfield native and Army Capt. Patrick Horan is about to move into a newly renovated house in McLean, as we reported in Wednesday’s Metro section.
But the folks who made it happen were mostly omitted from the story, because in the print edition, there is only so much space for words and pictures. Here on the Internet, though, space is infinite, and the work these people did for the Horans, and do around our region, deserves a quick note of recognition.
Rebuilding Together has 200 chapters around the country, including chapters in Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church, Alexandria, Loudoun County, D.C. and Montgomery County. In a high-cost area such as ours, they do the important work of “helping people stay in their homes,” said Patti Klein, executive director of the Arlington/Fairfax chapter. “Because the most affordable home is one you’re already in.”
There’s more about Rebuilding Together, as well as the volunteer efforts from Sears employees, after the jump. But below is a really excellent piece by WUSA-9’s Peggy Fox, who is Horan’s sister-in-law. Her piece takes you through the house, through Horan’s history, and really shines with the exuberance of a family that has overcome adversity.
Rebuilding Together is “not about extreme home makeover,” Klein said. “Though I know the recipients sometimes feel that.” And the projects keep people from having to move or be foreclosed upon, which adds to everyone’s economic burden.
The nonprofit finds contractors and suppliers who are willing to donate goods and services or provide them at reduced prices, and volunteers to do the work. Rather than make over a house, railings are installed or moldy carpet removed or stairs repaired. “It’s all about safety, not cosmetics,” Klein said. “I can’t tell you how many people we meet who can’t leave their homes because they can’t get good access in and out of it.”
In Montgomery County, Rebuilding’s executive director Susan Hawfield said, the average homeowner they assist has an annual income of about $24,000. After living expenses, “there’s nothing left for home repairs,” Hawfield said.
The Arlington/Fairfax chapter does about 60 projects a year. The Montgomery chapter does about 120 projects. Nationwide, Rebuilding Together does about 10,000 projects per year, including 4,000 on the last Saturday of April every year, “National Rebuilding Day.”
Klein said faith-based groups, businesses, community groups and individuals all pitch in, and that some companies use a volunteer project for team building. At the Horan house, Gilday Renovations was the project director that made the house safer, and numerous other local contractors participated throughout the property.
At Sears, which has been doing the Heroes at Home project to help wounded veterans for five years, more than two dozen employees took a day off Tuesday to work on the Horan house on Old Dominion Drive. They were doing heavy lifting and digging in the early morning heat and still had plenty of landscaping left when I fled at noon.
Sears also solicits donations for the program, for which they provide not only labor but material and appliances, and the company has raised more than $16 million to help over 80,000 veterans’ families, spokeswoman Deserie Miller said.
When it came time for the Horans to formally acknowledge everyone’s work, the sweaty and dirty Sears employees took a break to sit and applaud the young couple, whose own sacrifices for this country have been immense.
“We decided we wanted to come back here to Virginia,” Patrick Horan told the group. “A couple of my brothers live around here. My Dad. I like Virginia. That’s where I grew up, Virginia.”
The Sears employees cheered loudly in response.
To volunteer for Rebuilding Together, go here.
To contribute to Sears’s Heroes at Home, go here.