Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Volunteers landscape wounded vet's new Colorado home

GOLDEN, Colo. (8/5/08)--More than 100 volunteers from credit unions and interns of the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) joined Homes for Our Troops and the National Journal Group in a "Volunteer Day" to landscape a home built for a wounded Iraq war veteran.

The volunteers spent Saturday laying sod and landscaping the site around the nearly finished home for Staff Sergeant Travis Strong and his family.

The home in Golden, Colo.--a joint project of Homes for Our Troops, the DNCC, America's Credit Unions, and National Journal Group--will be presented to SSG Strong, his wife Misty, and their two children in a ceremony around this month's Democratic National Convention.

"It truly warms the heart to see so many volunteers spending their Saturday giving back to someone who has given so much to us," said John Gonsalves, president and founder of Homes for Our Troops.

Ground was broken on the home site in April. In June, more than 350 volunteers and skilled labor conducted a three-day "Build Brigade" to construct much of the home's exterior. Since then, volunteers from the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council have worked on the home's interior. Saturday's effort focused on turning the construction site into a landscaped yard.

Strong lost both legs above the knee as a result of injuries sustained in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in 2006 during his second tour of duty in Iraq for the U.S. Army. The specially adapted home is being built at no cost to his family.

"We're honored to help out in this good work to benefit the family of Staff Sergeant Strong, a true American hero who has served our country honorably at great personal sacrifice," said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC.

Credit unions played an integral part in the effort, through volunteer labor and fundraising to defray costs of both the house and a companion Minnesota project connected with the Republican National Convention. So far, credit unions nationally have raised over $225,000 for the two houses.

"Credit unions operate every day with a 'People Helping People' philosophy," said Daniel A. Mica, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). "That's why our credit unions and their members have jumped at the opportunity to assist this very deserving soldier and his family, either through fundraising efforts across the country or by volunteering their time in person today."

John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming, added, "Credit unions here in Colorado are proud to be a part of this project. From the hundreds of volunteers who showed up in June and again here today (Saturday) to the tens of thousands of dollars our credit unions have raised, we are honored to help make real the American dream of a home to call one's own for Travis and his family."

The undertaking is part of a year-long series of service projects the DNCC has organized to give back to the community hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Since last July, the organization has centered its monthly "DNCC Service Days" outings around three areas of importance to the Denver-area community: youth, environmental projects and the combined issues of homelessness and hunger.

CUNA, the Minnesota Credit Union Network, and National Journal Group also are working with Homes for Our Troops and the Republican National Committee on a similar Volunteer Day for the companion veteran's home being built in conjunction with the Republican National Convention. The Volunteer Day for that project, a home in Woodbury, Minn., is scheduled for Aug. 15th.

courtesy of cuna.org

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