A Connecticut Marine who was severely wounded by an explosive while on duty in Afghanistan is being honored for his service by his community, who are building him a brand-new house. Literally.
One hundred volunteers showed up at the residential lot in the town of Glastonbury, Conn., to frame and side Corp. Manny Jimenez's 2,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home. The generous outpouring of manpower will mean a project that would normally take many months to complete would be reduced to a few weeks.
"Having been through the World Trade Center and 9/11, we certainly know what it's like to be down on your knees and need help," says Bill Keegan, founder of Heart 9/11, one of the organizations responsible for helping Jimenez.
Keegan joins the Rotary Club of Glastonbury, Purple Heart Homes and the residents of Glastonbury in volunteering funds, time and effort in constructing the home -- which will be offered to Jimenez fully furnished -- from scratch. All furniture and all the construction materials come from donations.
Jimenez, who was a squad leader in Afghanistan, was on a routine foot patrol in August 2010, when an improvised explosive device detonated, wounding him. He required a left shoulder amputation, and lost hearing in his left ear and part of his sight in his left eye. Jimenez, 23, plans to return to school when he receives his medical discharge in early June.
Thanks to the generosity of his neighbors, come June he won't have to worry about finding a place to call home. This past weekend his home's wooden exterior was raised and, in coming weeks, volunteers will apply vinyl siding and roof shingles, install sinks and light switches, paint walls and lay flooring. The home is projected to be completed by mid-May.
The volunteerism displayed by the Glastonbury community is reminiscent of what the Fuquay-Varina community in North Carolina did for U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Stan Roberts in 2010. The then-29-year-old Roberts lost a leg during a tour of duty in Iraq, and arrived home to a newly built three-bedroom, two-bath home after a team of veterans, homebuilders and others came together under "Operation: Coming Home." The wheelchair-accessible home allowed Roberts, his wife and their four children to move out of a rental community and into a paid-for home close to the college he attended.
Similarly, upon his return, a grateful Jimenez will enjoy the comfort of a spacious home in turnkey condition.
The New York Times predicts that the house would command "several hundreds of thousands of dollars" on the market. Corporal Jimenez, however, will get it for $1.
"By them helping, it means there are still people out there that care about military service veterans coming back," Jimenez told NBC Connecticut.
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