Houses needs heroes
When Russ Parker started the House of Heroes (HOH) chapter in Washington there were about 30 volunteers.
Now it is down to 10 to 15 volunteers, which makes it hard for HOH to help veterans with home repairs they need, Parker said.
“We have very few volunteers now,” Parker said. “Most of them work full-time or get tied up in other areas.”
Parker is the founder of the Washington County chapter of HOH. He is 80 years old but does home repairs through HOH on a regular basis.
Before Parker was involved with HOH he lived in Columbus, Ga. He retired 40 years ago from the Army and was a paratrooper instructor. After his retirement, he started helping widows of service members with much-needed house repairs.
An HOH chapter was started in Columbus, Ga., in 1999, for which he volunteered. After moving to Iowa in 1999 and living here for several years he saw a need to help service members and their families, so he started the HOH chapter in Washington in 2008.
“We help any veteran regardless of rank that has been honorably discharged from all branches of the service,” Parker said. “After 9/11, we also began to help safety personnel, like police officers.”
This week HOH volunteers, Randy Boileau, Russ and his son Don Parker, and Alvin Miller built a wheelchair ramp for Robert Pierce. Pierce is retired from the Army. Pierce has no feeling in his legs because of a back surgery he had this past February.
“Randy [Boileau] saw my wife, Audrey, at BP where she works and she told him about what happened,” Pierce said. “Randy got a hold of Russ and told him what happened to me, and things went from there.”
The surgery made it difficult for Pierce to get in and out of his house, Pierce said. On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Pierce began to use the ramp located in the back of his home at 1002 East 3rd St. in Washington before it was finished. He was happy to have one built for him.
“It’s great and pretty unreal,” Pierce said. “I think it’s nice that there are people like that out there. People should know more about these people and the work they do.”
For R. Parker the best thing is seeing the appreciation from homeowners after the work is done, he said.
If someone wants repairs done by HOH, an application must be filled out and a copy of the service member’s DD214 must be sent in, R. Parker said. They must also own their home and on the application the homeowner must rate the home repairs from one to 10, one being the most important.
Then HOH members will go over and look at the home to see what repairs they can do, R. Parker said.
“We stay away from electrical and plumbing,” he said. “We contract that out and roofs, too.”
Right now two porches are waiting to be painted and there is a house that needs to be painted, R. Parker said. He hopes to have these done soon because HOH doesn’t work in the winter.
There aren’t any requirements to be a volunteer, and previous knowledge of working on homes isn’t required, R. Parker said. In fact, there are three high-schoolers, Brett Brinning, Alex Kleinmeyer, and Jordon Wallace, who have volunteered since HOH began in 2008.
“Brett and Alex volunteer on a regular basis,” Parker said. “Jordon is in football now, but he also comes when he can.”
If you would like to volunteer you can contact him by e-mail at Russ.Parker@windstream.net or call him at 319-863-1024.