About 50 well-wishers and donors turned out Dec. 10 to cheer as retired Cpl. Bradley Stenson received the keys to his home, House No. 11 for the Veteran’s Housing Project. Eight years in, nearly all the founding organizations were represented, including the City of Eugene, Lane County, Homebuilders Assn. of Lane County, and St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County.
A proud moment for the Lowe’s team, with Sen. James Manning, and Eileen Sigler and Terry McDonald of St. Vincent de Paul.
The presentation of the housekeys by Foster Martinez of SVdP’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. “This is really about community,” said Terry McDonald, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul. “At a time when it seems that so much divides us, it’s good to have something that brings us together.”
House No. 11 did that. Spearheaded by local contractor Jeremy Dibos, the long-neglected house got a remodeled kitchen, sparkling new bathroom, fresh paint throughout, landscaping and a new backyard deck. Volunteer labor for landscaping and general cleanup came by way of Keller Williams Realty employees on their Red Day, which lasted two days, and Barb Ruiz who mustered one more group to get the place reception-ready.
Barb Ruiz also placed several dozen Honor A Vet flags, which have military-style dog tags commemorating the sacrifices of community members relatives and friends who served.
VHP House No. 11 is the fourth project made available to the program by the Bethel School District, which holds properties adjacent to existing schools in anticipation of future expansion. Contributors to VHP include Carl’s Jr. and its Stars for Heroes program, the Eugene Association of Realtors Young Professional’s Network, which brought a ceremonial check for the opening, and a team from Lowe’s.
The honor of the day went to VHP’s Foster Martinez who turned over the keys with a flourish to the new tenant. Overwhelmed by the round of applause, Cpl. Stenson expressed his thanks and intentions to give back when he can.
“I appreciate everything you did,” he told the gathering. “It’s awesome.”
Sen. James Manning may have summed it up best in describing the huge contributions of those who defend the Constitution, and how hard they struggle to find comfort and security afterward. “This is a small measure here,” he said. “But it’s a gigantic step for one veteran. We have to keep the momentum going, and we can only do that if we join together.”