Rebuilding Together,Heroes at Home volunteers help give veteran a new home

  • Published
  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78 ABW/PA
In 1957, James and Josephine Gantt moved into their Warner Robins home.

Like most homes that old, the years have taken a toll. But, thanks to the joint efforts of Rebuilding Together Warner Robins and Heroes at Home, their home has a new look.

Jerome Stephens, president of Rebuilding Together Warner Robins and a retired civil service member from Robins, said nearly 60 military members and civilians from Robins and the Middle Georgia community are currently involved in the organization which originated here in 1997.

"Rebuilding Together is the nation's largest volunteer program," he said. "We have 235 affiliates in 46 states. We help elderly and we also help the handicapped and disabled."

Mr. Stephens said Rebuilding Together helps make homes better.

"We repair their homes," he said. "It can range from roofs to electrical, plumbing, flooring, painting exterior/interior, whatever the needs are in the home."

Rebuilding Together Warner Robins has repaired 600 homes since it began.

To make the organization's current project possible, the organization received a federal grant and received private and corporate donations from throughout the community.

Mr. Stephens said Rebuilding Together's national office recently teamed up with Heroes at Home, an organization that helps disabled veterans make home repairs, to distribute about $2 million among the 46 states it serves.

Local Rebuilding Together volunteers coupled a portion of that money with federal grant monies to make the Gantt home a more inviting place to live.

"James Gantt is career veteran," he said. "He's 78 years old and has Parkinson's disease, and his wife, Josephine, has bone cancer. We came over and saw what was going on with his home (and wanted to help)."

The crew totally gutted the home, replacing doors, appliances, flooring, roofing, siding, and the heat and air system. Workers also gave the home a fresh coat of paint and spruced up the landscaping for better curb appeal.

Tom Hovey, a retired Air Force major and retired civil service member of the Air Force Reserve Command who has volunteered with the group since 1997, said he was glad to roll up his sleeves and pitch in.

"I like construction and I like helping other people," he said. "My gift is a gift of service. I've worked for volunteer organizations before, and Rebuilding Together just seemed to be a good thing."

Mr. Hovey said his faith drew him to the project.

"We've been given strengths, talents and abilities to use to help other people, and as long as we can do that, I think it's a good thing. It helps build our community. It helps build our families. It helps build our nation," he said.

Jim Sehorn, a retired Air Force brigadier general who has volunteered for Rebuilding Together for a couple of years, said he first got involved through his church.

"When you're retired and you don't have anything else to do, you don't have an excuse not to be a part of something like this," he said.

Pat VanBuren, a member of Rebuilding Together Warner Robins' board of directors who provides meals for the workers among other volunteer efforts, said the project is heartfelt.

"All of our volunteers are doing this out of love for our fellow man," she said. "They need it and we're here. We can do it, where they can't. For me, it's a feel-good thing in my heart because we can help somebody who needs it."

The Gantt family has been staying as guests at the Holiday Inn in Warner Robins since the project began. On Nov. 12, they stepped into a dream come true.

"I think it's really nice," Mr. Gantt said. "That's about the best thing to happen to us besides our daughter's birth. It's really nice that we can have a nice place."