NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A U.S. Navy Veteran who has special accessibility needs got a surprise from Rebuilding Together New Orleans and Home Depot on Thursday, Nov. 11.

With hammers, drills and lots of love, volunteers from Home Depot and Rebuilding Together New Orleans worked together for the “Operation Surprise” program to give a surprise to U.S. Navy veteran Carey Lessene, who served in Vietnam.

Lessene recently had a stroke, which made it difficult for him to get around and maintain his home on Marigny Street. Hurricane Ida also made his situation more difficult, permanently damaging his roof. The Home Depot Foundation replaced his roof and installed a new water heater in his home. The foundation also followed up with revamping his outdoor space.

Volunteers also built Lessene a new wheelchair ramp at his home.

To date, The Home Depot Foundation has invested $475 million in veteran causes that has helped renovate and enhance more than 55,000 veteran homes and facilities. The donations ensure more of our nation’s heroes have a safe, comfortable place to call home that fits their individual needs.

“Mr. Carey, our Navy veteran, we are helping out has been confined to his home and not able to come outside due to health issues, so we are building him a ramp and patio area,” said Marrero’s Home Depot Store Manager Tracy Jefferson.

These volunteers installed the new wheelchair ramp for Lessene, who has trouble walking. They also gave him new patio furniture, and they created a backyard oasis with new landscaping and a new patio.

When he saw his surprise, his eyes couldn’t believe it.

“This brought tears to my eyes. I can walk down this ramp with my walkers now, sit out here at the beautiful table, cook on my grill and do things I like. It gets me in my yard again. I don’t have to be scared to go down the wooden crinkey stoop,” Lessene said.

For him the time and effort spent on him means so much, especially being a veteran.

“I feel grateful, because as veterans, we are overlooked at times,” he said.

“We make sure to take care of local veterans. Things to make their life better and to take the stress off,” Jefferson said.

“Thank you again everyone for everything you’ve done,” Lessene said.

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