Neighbors in deed to friends in need

Larry Gill, veteran’s liaison with Homes for Our Troops, based in Taunton, Mass., was at the site until Monday.

What happened this past weekend, Gill said, is the completion of the Phase 1—Build Brigade.

With the major thrust completed, the second phase of the project will be the mechanical phase.

“We now need volunteers to help with the electrical and plumbing,” he said.

Once the electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems are in place, Gill said, project superintendent Ralph Kreutziger and general contractor Dave Hett, will then move into Phase 3.

“This is the finish phase,” Gill said. “Volunteers will complete floors, cabinets, Sheetrock­ing walls and painting.”

The next event, he said, is called Volunteer Day.

“People will come out and plant trees, shrubs, sod,” he said.

“Half the volunteers will be doing that and the other half will be inside the house mopping and sweeping.”

It is on that day or the next that Gill said is his favorite part of the job.

“It’s the day I say to a veteran, ‘’Welcome home.’”

Newell, who spent many months of rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said he first learned about the organization while he was there.

“I filled out the applications and waited to hear back,” he said.

Newell said he received word toward the latter part of 2009 that he had been selected.

“A lot of work goes into those first few months before the building ever starts,” Gill said.

The money for Newell’s new home was already secured before the announcement was ever made that a home was being built for his family.

“We do our research, starting with Chamber of Commerce offices, looking at contractors and superintendents through the Builders’ Association, and then we start contacting people,” Gill said.

Building begins

Two weeks ago, Kreutziger said, the foundation was poured.

The Marion High School Construction Technology class then spent three days framing the walls.

“The morning and afternoon classes spent their time working on this project,” he said.

“Starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning, volunteers stood walls up and we didn’t stop until almost 8:30 p.m. every night,” Kreutziger said.

By the end of the weekend, Kreutziger said he was pleased with the outcome.

Although the goal was to complete the roof and siding, there were problems with the blueprints, but overall it went well, Gill said.

A lot of volunteer help is going to be needed to meet the deadline though.

Both Gill and Kreutziger said donations of interior doors, electrical, plumbing and hardwood materials are needed, along with finishing carpenters, interior mill workers, and a garage door.

Accepting help

When it comes to helping, Newell said he has always considered himself someone who gives and not receives.

It wasn’t easy for him to accept a new house, even though it would help him in his personal recovery.

What helped him most, he said, was something one of his warrant officers told him.

“He told me to quit being a giver and, for once, be a receiver.”

As simple as that sounds, it’s not an easy thing to do.

Yet, for Newell, when he saw all the work and volunteers helping to make his new home possible, he felt a renewed hope and desire to give even more.

“I want to become a big part of the community and give back for all that’s been given to me,” he said.

“I have met so many great people.”

Others glad to help

Kreutziger said that this project got him out of retirement, and he’s happy to do it.

Karen Chaput of Marion, who helped at the registration table, said she met so many people from across Kansas and into Nebraska.

“Everyone was pretty awesome in pitching in, and everyone was there to help,” she said.

American Legion and Riders from Marion, Hillsboro, Canton, Hutchinson, Louisburg, Florence, Mulvane and Derby, along with VFW Posts 6958 and 3115 also volunteered.

“Military members from Fort Riley came and helped, students from Pittsburg State were on site and for three days everyone chipped in to build a home for Ryan and Carrie and their children,” Chaput said.

In addition to those volunteering to build the house, others volunteered to feed the workers.

Donna Kruetziger was one of the coordinators of the food drive, and she had lists of people to thank.

People from churches, military groups and other organziations helped in the food tent, she said.

It’s people who made the difference.

“It was a very successful weekend, and everyone was very dedicated to getting this home up and ready for the family,” Chaput said. “We still have a little ways to go, but they are going to have a beautiful home when it’s all done.”


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