After four months of work on a home for a wounded vet and his family who recently relocated to our area, a lead contractor indicates the project is entering its final stages and the family should be making themselves at home this spring. Volunteers will have another chance to lend a hand to the effort later this month.
It began with a “build brigade” led by Homes for Our Troops in late November and early December to build a house for Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Austin, wife Crissy and sons, Dylan and Colby. The build brigade brought out dozens of volunteers who spent a weekend erecting exterior and interior walls and beginning the process of roofing the structure.
Highlander Construction and Development of Radford has taken the lead as contractors on the build and Tuesday the company’s president and CEO, James Oliver, said spring weather will allow the team to begin working on the outside of the home as the interior moves closer to completion.
“We are getting ready this week, now that the weather has finally broken, to start working on the driveway, the sidewalks and the final grading on the outside,” said Oliver. “On the inside, we have finished the first coat of paint and installed the cabinets. We have a little bit more floor tile to install and then we’ll be finishing the electrical and plumbing fixtures.”
While the exterior of the home is mostly finished, Oliver indicated the project is a little behind schedule because they have depended on time and materials generously donated by the community.
“We would have liked to be done a little sooner just because we want to get Staff Sgt. Austin and his family (into the home) as soon as possible,” said Oliver. “But based on the fact so many people are donating their time and materials, we’re having to work those things into our schedule.”
HFOT has scheduled yet another volunteer day for Saturday, April 27 with a goal of bringing some curb appeal to the property. A site set up by the organization to allow volunteers to sign up for the event tells volunteers to be prepared to “help roll sod, spread mulch, plant flowers and clean up the yard” for the Austins’ home on Chicwood Drive, Pulaski. Oliver expects the entire project to be “substantially complete” after that.
The April 27 volunteer event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and is expected to continue “until all the work is done.” The site recommends volunteers bring small garden tools and work gloves. If volunteers do not have work gloves, Homes for Our Troops gloves will be available for purchase at $10 per pair with proceeds from the sale going toward Austin’s home.
The volunteer day is another part of the HFOT routine, according to Oliver. He said although he doesn’t know how many volunteers have signed up, “we can find something to do” for every able person who shows up that day. He said the only instructions for volunteers are to “come with a great attitude and a friendly smile.”
Oliver indicated most of the materials and labor needed for this project have been provided, but he encourages continued donations to HFOT.
“People are always welcome to make financial contributions to the charity because any resources that are not needed to finish this project up go to help the next veteran in line,” said Oliver. “So by all means, if people want to make a contribution to HFOT, I would highly encourage them to do that because people who made contributions before helped fund this project and any donations that come in now, from this point forward, just help the next veteran in line. The fact that we have most of the materials and labor we need should not stop people from wanting to make a donation to this worthy cause.”
Anyone seeking further information about how to get involved is encouraged to visit www.homesforourtroops.org/austin or find out more through a Facebook page dedicated to the project at www.facebook.com/SSgtJAustin. Follow the links to learn more about Austin and his family, the building project, and Homes for Our Troops.