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‘Military’ Category

  1. Home at Last

    August 7, 2012 by Jeff Forrest

    This past Saturday, I was honored with an invitation to a small get together in celebration of the fourth Home at Last project we are co-building with Hensel Phelps Construction in Oakland, Florida. This gathering was exceptionally significant in that all four recipients of the homes we’ve built for Home at Last were there together, and being honored by a visit from Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The hope is that this esteemed visit will bring awareness to the amazing work that the Home at Last team has done for wounded combat veterans – at the highest levels.

    Although I get to speak at the groundbreakings and dedications, the real work comes from people like John Russo and Paul Caruana, both employees of WPC. John and Paul have been involved with putting together the teams of subcontractors and vendors who have donated so much of their time and material to make these projects possible. We cannot thank these subs and vendors enough for their dedication to make a difference in the lives of these veterans and their families.

    If you’d like to see the impact firsthand, I encourage you to attend the upcoming dedication of the home for U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jeffery Kelly this coming Saturday, August 11th at 9:30am.

    Sergeant Kelly joined the Army Reserve in 2000 and transferred from the Reserves to the Regular Army in 2006. He served three tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2008. In 2008, while traveling in a convoy, Jeff was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and mortar fire. Despite a severely injured left leg, he completed his mission. Back at base, it was determined that his posterior tibial tendon was ruptured, so his leg was put in a cast and he was medevaced to the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. From there he was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. The mortar and RPG blasts also left Jeff with back problems, a brain injury and extreme chronic pain in his leg. He can walk short distances with the aid of a cane, but otherwise must use a wheelchair.

    Jeff’s home was built to accommodate his injuries and he has been involved in the design and construction of the home from day one. SGM Battaglia said it best, “Projects like these are a hand up, not a hand out.” WPC is proud to be part of giving a little something back to those who have given so much for our freedom.

    Although I’ve written about this project before, for those of you not familiar with Home at Last, here is a little recap:

    Home at Last, a special project of West Orange Habitat for Humanity, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization, was the idea of William C. Criswell, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy Seabees. West Orange Habitat for Humanity established the project in 2007 to meet the special housing needs of permanently disabled combat wounded veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. The project is dedicated to presenting at least one mortgage-free home each year to a veteran. The projects are completed entirely by donations and in-kind contributions of construction labor and materials.

    Mission
    For battle-weary wounded soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen, who have experienced the horrors of war first-hand, being Home at Last has its own special meaning. To those who wait – wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers – the long period of worry and anxiety for the safety of their loved ones ends when they are Home at Last. To the young son or daughter –gleefully jumping into the arms of a father or mother screaming, “I love you! I’ve missed you! You really are Home at Last” has to be a welcome home a parent will long remember. Home at Last was chosen as the project’s name because it portrayed the vision for this special project.

    Team
    William C. Criswell, Founder and Chairman; William T. Curdts, Home at Last Co-Chairman, John Russo, Construction Manager, Gary Atwil, Events Planning. Jim McQuillan, Fundraising.


  2. Gratitude Built On Remembrance

    September 8, 2011 by Jeff Forrest

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of documentaries and TV shows on September 11, 2001 (9/11). As we approach the 10th anniversary of that life-changing day, I found myself contemplating the past 10 years and how that day changed our lives. I wont go into where I was or what I was doing on that day. We all have our own personal stories. But, as I reflect I realize that as a company, perhaps 9/11 made us more patriotic. Not too long after 9/11 we added an 800 square foot American flag on the front of our corporate office. In addition, as you walk into our lobby you’ll find a plaque memorializing the events of 9/11. It’s unfortunate that it takes something of such a catastrophic nature to open our eyes to what we take for granted everyday; the freedom that is provided to us by so many men and woman protecting us both on our own soil and abroad.

    What has become very apparent to me in the past decade are the choices we’ve made and the added meaning behind some of our charitable activities. Specifically, charities related to wounded veterans that hit a special cord in our sentiments.  Perhaps they have more meaning because so many young men and woman are fighting wars that were motivated by 9/11. And, as a result, more and more of them are being permanently injured or killed.

    We were approached a few years back by the Johnny Damon foundation to sponsor his events. The idea that Johnny was the national spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project and that a portion of the proceeds from his events goes to the WWP made us far more willing to provide support. And when WPC was asked to participate in the Home at Last projects, a unique effort to honor combat-wounded veterans of the present military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing them with mortgage-free homes, we jumped at the opportunity. We’ve proudly participated in the construction of three of those homes and, without hesitation, have signed up for the fourth. WPC will continue to support these efforts and others with honor and patriotic commitment.

    A considerable number of lives were affected far more personally than I was as a result of the events on 9/11. Yet seeing how our charitable actions affect these wounded vets adds a special sense of pride. It is merely one way we honor those who were lost and those who are still sacrificing so much for our freedom today.


  3. What do I do for a living?

    August 18, 2011 by Jeff Forrest

    What do I do for a living?

    I was asked recently what I did for a living. I started to say that I’m a builder. Instead I said that I provide places for people to live, be cared for, go on vacation and raise families and I do it at a company that has amazing people who truly care about what they are doing. I said that when we are finished building a project, that we are proud of how we worked to make sure we did the best job possible and that everyone involved will remember having a great experience. The answer to the question what we do… should be why we do it. We do it because we want people to enjoy every part of the building process from the moment they meet us, while we’re building it, to the time someone lives, works or plays in or on our project and many years beyond.

    That answer was galvanized in my brain and my heart last week when I attended the ribbon cutting for the first home competed at our Heroes Manor project at Camp Lejeune. Phase I of Heroes Manor is a military housing project on the Marine base in North Carolina consisting of 120 duplex buildings (240 units).  Although on the Marine base, WPC is working for Lincoln Military Housing, a subsidiary of Lincoln properties.

    A young Marine, his wife, and their 3-week-old baby are the first occupants of the home and were there to commemorate the completion by cutting the ribbon along with Base Commanding Officer Colonel Daniel Lecce. (If you want the definition of a true leader and outstanding Marine, all you have to do is shake the hand of Colonel Lecce and listen to him speak. I almost enlisted on the spot.) The young Marine will be heading on his first tour of duty to the Middle East within a few weeks but he will rest easy knowing that his wife and new baby will be safe and sound living in a wonderful new home built with pride by WPC. As an added pat on the back to the workers on site, both Lincoln staff and the base staff stated, “this is the best quality they’ve seen on any of the military housing projects they’ve been involved with” and “WPC has set a new standard of quality for our projects.”

    What do I do for a living? That question was answered with the smile of that young family as they walked into their home.

    Camp LeJeune

    Jeff Forrest was honored to represent WPC at the Aug 4th ribbon cutting ceremony for the very first home, completed by WPC, at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.