Veteran and fire department volunteer gets home make over


Friends and neighbors gather at the Alexandria home of Gary Gaal. (Evy Mages/For Capital Business)
September 25, 2011

Bruce Case said he was surprised when he learned his company Case Design/Remodeling won $50,000, selected from among 1,600 entrants in a contest sponsored by a building products manufacturer, to remodel

a home of his choosing.

Case gathered his team, which decided to use the money to make over the home of a selfless person who has given extensively to the community and country.

“We could’ve given it to a paying customer,” said Case. “The idea of giving back to someone who has given so much was quick to come to our minds. The excitement built and built in the room around the idea as we thought about it.”

And the search began.


Case Design/Remodeling owner Bruce Case with Gaal. (Evy Mages/For Capital Business)

Case and his team contacted friends, nonprofits and local volunteer police and fire stations to identify candidates.

Emerging from a pool of 50 names was Gary Gaal. The retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel had not only logged 19,000 volunteer hours with the Fairfax County police and fire departments, but had been nudged by his wife for years to do something about the weather-beaten windows and drafty front door.

Case Design/Remodeling gave Gaal’s 1970s-era house a facelift that included roofing, windows, a new door, shutters, vinyl siding and a stone veneer.

Nearly 70 people, including members of the local fire department and Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee), attended the unveiling.

“I never expected anything like this,” said Gaal, who also works full time at the Pentagon as chief of exercise for the Army. “The way they do business and the attention to detail that they put in their work, it was great.”

The project cost Case Design/Remodeling an additional $50,000 in labor costs.

“It’s not just about the volume of your business,” said Case. “There has to be more than that.”


Luise Gaal with John Stephenson of Ply Gem. (Evy Mages/For Capital Business)

Case’s desire to give back was ignited 20 years ago when he began tagging along with a friend who volunteered at a soup kitchen.

“Once you start looking in the eyes of people you’re serving, your eyes start to open to the real need out there,” said Case.

When the construction industry’s economic slow down began in 2007, the company launched a philanthropic arm, Case Cares, to centralize its giving efforts.

Recently it built a home for a double amputee veteran and remodeled kitchens for a Falls Church transitional house for homeless people.

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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