When two groups have a common goal, developing a great relationship is a given. But when their hearts are in the same place, you can pretty much expect magic. Boot Campaign is proud to partner with Renovating Hope, a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on honoring heroes by providing home remodeling and repair solutions to service members and veterans with injuries. Together, with practically an army of volunteers, we turned one very dilapidated house into a forever home worthy of the patriot who lives inside.
Our paths crossed thanks to one amazing veteran: Jessica. The 26-year-old Pennsylvania native spent nine years serving in the Marine Corps, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, before being medically retired in 2013. During her service, she battled a series of unimaginable obstacles that ultimately cut short her military career. After returning to her home state, Jessica moved into the house she bought before she deployed. It was right across the street from the local volunteer fire department, and after she retired, she began volunteering in their coffee shop. It was a perfect fit…almost.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, we’d be here a long time listing out the renovations needed to make Jessica’s house a home worthy of her bravery and service – the before and after photos are staggering. There was plenty of space for Jess and her dog Hunter, but most rooms were in pretty bad shape. If it was going to be her home for years to come, it was going to need a lot of help. Enter Renovating Hope.
The cornerstone of Renovating Hope’s vision is to rally local cooperation, giving the veteran homeowner both a stable place to live and the community support necessary to grow and thrive after service. They’ve completed more than 270 home renovations and repairs in 30 states, utilizing expert contractors for high-quality results. As much as possible, the funding, labor and materials are locally sourced, but when the project is as big as Jessica’s renovation, it’s “all hands on deck” to get the job done. Widening the circle to include other like-minded groups can make all the difference.
The Boot Campaign is unlike most other military-focused nonprofits in that our only requirement is to have served. We don’t set criteria based on combat experience, generation or any other demographic, which allows our grants to help veterans in a variety of ways, from living expenses to education costs, and yes, housing. To help fund the massive renovation effort her house needed, Jessica reached out to the Boot Campaign, applying for a housing grant through our Military Recovery Fund. We were thrilled to say “yes!”
The list of projects that turned Jessica’s run-down house into a home fit for a hero is long: interior and exterior walls, bathrooms, kitchen, roofing, electric, plumbing, doors and windows…you get the picture. Construction took months, yet the undercurrent of patriotism did not waver and the end result is stunning. Without photographic evidence to tell the tale, you’d never know how battered the place was before, which just goes to show how much love went into each and every detail.
On a sunny day this past April, what must have been the whole town gathered to watch Jessica take the keys to her “new” house. Law enforcement, fire fighters, Marines, soldiers, volunteers and well-wishers paraded to celebrate, and smiling faces from Renovating Hope and Boot Campaign were on-hand, too, proud to see the house that freedom built. What’s amazing about this story is that it’s not atypical for the work Renovating Hope and Boot Campaign do every day. Showing gratitude and providing support for veterans and their families happens in ways that may seem big to the rest of us, but pale in comparison to how those families sacrificed for our country. It’s truly a privilege to serve those who serve for us, and we’ll keep working together to give back as much as we can.
Welcome home, Jessica.