• Students from University of Delaware's Alternative Breaks Volunteered on Our 100th Home

  • Celebration of Our 100th Home!

  • Susquehanna Habitat for Humanity

    Habitat's vision:

    a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Donate today!

Veteran Repair Program Stories

Otis Johnson

 

Otis Johnson, a Marine Corps veteran who did two tours of duty in Vietnam, has lived in his Edgewood home for the past fifteen years. It was Joyce, his wife of almost 36 years, who approached the Office on Aging to see what help was available to them when they began having problems with their house, such as with their windows and door.

“The Office on Aging told Joyce, ‘What about Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna?’” said Johnson.

So, the Johnsons started the application process to see whether or not they met the qualifications for Habitat Susquehanna’s Repair Program.  The Repair Program provides critical home repair and weatherization to low income homeowners. It charges 15 percent of the total bill as part of the “a hand up, not a hand-out” philosophy shared by other programs.

“The process I went through wasn’t hard. I’d recommend this to anyone who qualifies for it,” said Johnson.

During the qualification review process, Joyce, who had cancer and chronic lung disease (COPD), was hospitalized as her health continued to deteriorate. Johnson would often stop in the Habitat Susquehanna office on his way to the hospital to check on the status of his application so that he could report any news to his wife.

Sadly, ten days after their application for assistance was approved, Joyce passed away.

A home visit and assessment were done to determine what grants were available to fund the work. In the case of Johnson, he was eligible for a grant from the Home Depot Foundation which provides funding for critical repairs on the homes of veterans. Another source of funding – available to all qualified homeowners – was the Maryland Energy Administration grant. With these grants, Johnson received a new roof, front entry door, eight windows, washing machine, refrigerator, hot water heater, heat pump, and attic insulation. Light bulbs were also replaced and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed.  In addition, as part of a national effort to improve 100 homes with veterans, Wells Fargo volunteers removed a tree and fence, and made landscaping improvements to the property.

“The workers, volunteers and entire Habitat staff were very good and professional through the process. I’d give them five stars,” said Johnston. “I’d tell my neighbors that if they need help, do it as soon as possible! What a blessing it was to get help from Habitat.”

 

Jimmy and Joyce Ray

Joyce Ray opens a photo album and flips through the pages documenting the beautiful flower garden she had cultivated.  It has been such a great source of pride as she recounts the many neighbors who admired it through the years.

“They said it looked like a magazine, and that they couldn’t wait until spring to go by and see what I had,” says Joyce.

“All those pictures…we used to keep our yard like that,” says her husband, Jimmy.  “And now it’s gone.”

The couple has lived in Harford County for 50 years, since the year they got married. They moved to their home in Havre de Grace 10 years later.  Sadly, a series of medical issues over the past year have made it impossible for Joyce to keep up with the garden she loved.

While Joyce broke her foot years earlier, her biggest health problems came within the past year when she suffered a silent stroke.  That was followed by a mini stroke at her home last July which landed her in the hospital.  While in the hospital, Joyce had a third stroke.  She is now paralyzed on the left side of her body and uses a wheelchair to get around.  She had surgery on a hematoma in her left hand, but it’s due to the stroke that her hand remains in a sling.  Jimmy, a colon cancer survivor, is the major caregiver for his wife. 

Their daughter, Theresa Jackson, has been very involved in trying to get Joyce some help in leaving the house.  She initially found someone who could donate a portable ramp but the Rays found it to be too slick and dangerous to use in bad weather.  Jimmy would have to push Joyce’s wheelchair across the wet lawn to get to their car parked in the driveway – a very difficult feat.  So, Theresa helped her parents fill out a Repair Program application and they sent it to Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna for consideration.  Their application was approved.  

Volunteers came to build the accessible ramp which was funded through Thrivent Builds Repairs, a program that focuses on helping complete external repairs on existing homes. 

“We appreciate it so, so much,” says Joyce.  “When you see someone giving their heart and soul to something and not expecting anything for it…they’re good people.  It’s nice to know there are people like that out there.”

“I would definitely recommend Habitat,” says Jimmy.  “They do excellent work.  They help people who really need to be helped, and who can’t help themselves.”

Now Joyce has a ramp that leads all the way to the driveway.  Her goal is to try to regain some of her strength by using the grip rail attached to the ramp.  In fact, she asked Habitat to install a second grip rail on the other side, so that she can one day pull herself up, stand and walk. 

“It has given my mother hope when she was beginning to lose hope,” says Theresa.

Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna and Thrivent Financial are doing great things together! The Thrivent Builds Repairs program recently partnered with Habitat’s Repair Program and helped Joyce and Jimmy Ray get an accessible ramp for their home. We hope to have many more partnering opportunities with Thrivent in the future as we strive to serve our Harford and Cecil communities in need.

For more information about the Thrivent Builds programs, CLICK HERE!

 

Follow Us

Subscribe!

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

     Sign up for our mailing list and:

  • Learn about our upcoming events!
  • Stay up-to-date on volunteer activities!
  • Stay informed on our latest news!

Subscribe to our
mailing list today!