I gave a speech a few years ago and Veterans in the audience al thanked me for putting into words exactly how they feel.-
There have been many thousands who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They are buried in graves both here and overseas. However, there are currently hundreds of soldiers who have sacrificed, if not their lives, their former youthful lives. With advancements in modern medicine, many men who used to die on the battlefield now survive, some with almost unspeakable disabilities.
Unknown to most Americans, the U.S. government gives a one-time-only grant of less than $64,000 to a soldier and his or her family to make their home handicap accessible, no matter how severe the soldier’s wounds are. Men who are totally paralyzed from the neck down, or are blind and missing multiple limbs (at least two men lost all four limbs) are returning home. $64,000 doesn’t begin to cover the cost of converting a home to accommodate these types of disabilities.
A need to help those soldiers inspired John Gonsalves, a civilian, to start “Homes For Our Troops”, a non-profit that builds entire handicapped houses at no cost to the soldiers.
The houses Gonsalves builds are custom-made for each individual soldier. For the men who are paralyzed, or who have lost multiple limbs, or are severely brain damaged, HFOT installs hoists to lift them in and out of tubs and holds them there safely while they’re bathed. A Japanese toilet that cleans and dries you is also installed, so the men get back of their dignity and privacy. A smart computer is installed to unlock doors and turn on lights for the men with no arms.
Homes for Our Troops has, in turn, inspired me to raise funds for them as a volunteer. I have organized a Beautiful Baby Photo Contest in which the public casts votes in the form of dollar bills or checks for their favorite baby. 100% of the ten dollar entry fee and all vote money goes to HFOT. The winning child rides in a chauffer-driven convertible supplied by Mercedes of Danbury in the Newtown Labor Day Parade. I am hoping the contest can go statewide.
I will be appearing on the Better Connecticut television show on Wednesday, June 6th, to spread the word and promote this friendly competition. It would be wonderful if the Beautiful Baby fundraiser can go national and do for HFOT what Relay for Life has done for the American Cancer Society.
There will also be a silent auction at the Sports Authority’s Danbury store during July. The Joe Namath Football Camp at WestConn has donated an autographed football. Danbury oral surgeon Dr. Marshall Kurtz has donated two of his Yankee season tickets, which are right behind the visitor’s dugout for the auction.
If you also have season tickets or items that you would like to donate for the Sports Authority Silent Auction, or if you would like to make a monetary donation please contact me at the address or email below. In addition, if you would like to host a fundraiser, I would be happy to guide you.
To enter a child (newborn to four years) in the Beautiful Baby Photo Contest, send a ten dollar check, made payable to ‘Homes for Our Troops’ and a non-returnable 4” x 4” or wallet sized photo with the baby’s name and contact phone number written on the back to: Beautiful Baby; C/O Lois Barber; 33 Zoar Road; Sandy Hook, CT 06482. You may also contact me through my email at email@example.com
The end of the year holidays are not the only time we Americans should give to charity. Every Memorial Day, we should take a moment of silence before eating our barbequed steak, and give generously to those who have given everything to us. Please help me get one more soldier off the waiting list for one of these houses.