NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Volunteers with Rebuilding Together New Orleans started giving back to veterans a decade ago. To date, the organization has helped roughly 150 veterans have a safe place to live.
“Rebuilding Together New Orleans believes everyone has the right to a safe and healthy house,” Executive Director William Stoudt said. “Unfortunately, in our community, there are so many veterans that are living in dramatically unsafe conditions.”
Throughout, WGNO met three veterans who were able to watch their generational homes come back to life through the art of a paintbrush.
“This house was passed on to me by my parents,” Air Force Veteran Joe Capers said about his Ninth Ward home. “I’ve been trying to keep up with it, but it’s been rough.”
Thankfully for him, Rebuilding Together and the Home Depot Foundation sent volunteers to weatherize and pest-proof his home.
The rebuilds range from a fresh coat of paint to a wheelchair ramp, to a new roof.
Navy Veteran David Green and his wife, Marian, were given the full treatment. Their Fillmore area home was damaged in hurricanes Katrina and Ida. When they tried to get their roof replaced, it was not done correctly.
“The water was about six to eight feet. After that, we had to relocate,” Green said. “After two years, they said it was okay to come back and that’s when we started getting this together.”
Chester Blunt was a mechanic in the Army in the 1970s. That’s where he learned the toughness it took to ride out Katrina in his home. He said his dog barked to wake him up and he realized he was floating on his mattress inside the house. He was rescued through his side window by a boater. He and his wife, Linda, still live in that house today.
“I always envisioned myself with a little house with a white picket fence,” Linda said. “Chester didn’t want a house. He wanted a pickup truck. He has grease in his veins. He’s always been a mechanic.”
Blunt, Green and Capers all risked their lives in the United States and overseas to protect their country. Now, they’re risking their lives again by living in unsafe conditions. That’s why Stoudt said veteran rebuilds are their top priority.
“We want to make sure that the people who served our community aren’t left behind and we’re able to serve them,” Stoudt said.
Stoudt asked any homeowner, veteran or not, who needs help with their home to contact the Rebuilding Together team by heading to their website.
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