K+BB - December 2008 - (Page 18)

Focus In Service After four years, Homes For Our Troops continues to need your help In this historical and often contentious election year, one can’t imagine the Republicans and Democrats coming together over much, but on one front they did. During both national conventions, keys to specially adapted homes in communities near the respective host cities were presented to two veterans who had been severely injured while serving in Iraq. The homes were the result of a partnership between the Republican National Committee (RNC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Credit Union Association, the National Journal Group and Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting service members seriously wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. For John C. Gonsalves, who founded Homes For Our Troops, the partnership was a momentous event, as “it solidified the message that we’ve had all along, which is: This is not a right thing or a left thing,” he said. “It’s just the right thing to do. It’s politics aside.” As part of their collaboration, the RNC and DNC also announced the projects in a joint ad, which appeared in the National Journal, and issued a press release, providing the organization with much needed, and appreciated, exposure. Add to that a video that played on the first day of the Democratic convention, which was covered by C-SPAN, and the experience, said Gonsalves, “really raised our profile.” The publicity could not have come at a better time. Although Gonsalves acknowledges that acquiring the credibility necessary for fundraising was a major challenge when he first launched Homes For Our Troops, the recent housing downturn has begun to slow the donation of products and supplies. Hence, raising money has become even more critical. “We’ve noticed that we’re having to spend more on the homes right now,” he said. A contractor with some experience in building accessible homes, Gonsalves established Homes For Our Troops in 2004 (which is also when ASID OFFERS A HAND The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation is also making a difference in the military community by partnering with the nonprofit Rebuilding Together and its Veterans Housing Initiative. The initiative offers free home remodels and repair services for retired and active service men and women that often include executing accessibility modifications for veterans wounded in service and ensuring that their living environments are comfortable and safe. As part of the partnership, the ASID Foundation will launch a pilot program in the Washington, D.C. area and, with the help of volunteers from the ASID Washington Metro Chapter, renovate the home of a deserving veteran. As Jack Pruitt, director of development for the ASID Foundation, noted, “For designers looking for a way to give back to their community, this is an excellent opportunity to match their services with the needs of the brave men and women that protect our country.” The project is expected to be completed by April 2009. In addition to the pilot program, an awareness campaign will be rolled out to ASID chapters across the country to inform members of the partnership and encourage them to lend their time and support to remodel veterans’ homes. The ASID Foundation will also provide Rebuilding Together affiliates with its REGREEN resources, the nation’s first sustainable residential remodeling guidelines. For more information about Rebuilding Together’s Veterans Housing Initiative, visit www.rebuildingtogether.org/veterans. project is completed in six months and involves some 300 or more volunteers who come “from basically every walk of life.” Obviously, building and design professionals are integral to the projects, but those less skilled can also help by hosting fundraising events, making donations or even ensuring that volunteers are fed on volunteer days. With more than 30,000 service members wounded to date, the need for these homes, as well as support, donations and awareness, is great. “My hope for the future is to expand, to increase the number of homes we can do at one time,” said Gonsalves. “We want to build hundreds of these.” If you want to lend your expertise, make a donation or learn more about Homes For Our Troops and the many veterans who have begun new lives, thanks to its efforts, visit www.homesforourtroops.org. s —Alice Liao K+BB first reported on the nonprofit) after being moved by a news segment on a soldier who lost both legs in Iraq. Since then, the organization has built 33 houses, with two more to be completed by press date. The projects are located throughout the country and designed with a variety of accessible features that specifically address the needs of each occupant. These include, for example, roll-in showers, grab bars, rollunder sinks, lift systems, voice-activated controls, automatic door openers and whole-house control systems that can be operated using a PDA. According to Gonsalves, all of the features are intended to offer the veterans “so much more independence.” Because Homes For Our Troops has only 14 paid staff, “the bigger part of the organization is the thousands of volunteers who work on the homes all over the country,” said Gonsalves. On average, each 18 + K BB December 2008 / www.kbbonline.com / The Official Sponsor of K/BIS www.kbis.com http://www.rebuildingtogether.org/veterans http://www.homesforourtroops.org http://www.kbbonline.com http://www.kbis.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of K+BB - December 2008

K+BB - December 2008
Contents
Online Contents
Online News
Editorial
Dates
Focus
Trends
Product Innovator Awards
Products
Options
Profile
Abroad
Design
Linear Thinking
Miami Heat
Green
Access
Additions
Practice
Editorial Index
Ad Index
Favorites

K+BB - December 2008

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