On Veteran’s Day, U.S. Army Veteran, Sgt. Joseph Harris, received assistance from the Osceola Council on Aging and The Home Depot Foundation to make improvements to his home in St. Cloud. PHOTO/OSCEOLA COUNCIL ON AGINGWith more than 17 million Veterans living in the United States, 1.5 million in the state of Florida, and over 16,000 in Osceola County, it is realistic to assume many of those Veterans are Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) neighbors and clients. With the annual Veterans Day celebrated last week to honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, we wanted to also share a program in which the OCOA helps manage to lend support to our courageous, local American men and women.

The “Helping Homebound Heroes” program is an initiative in which the OCOA has overseen for multiple years to help local Veterans maintain safe living arrangements. The program supports Veterans with alterations and updates to their residences for improved safety and accessibility. In partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, Team Depot, and Meals on Wheels America, the initiative is a perfect example of our giving back to those who have served and honored our nation. Through this initiative, Meals on Wheels Veteran clients and those with service-related disabilities can receive housing upgrades and safety modifications to help decrease risk and injury while also increasing their accessibility to all areas of their home. With a budget of nearly $270,000 spent annually to support Helping Homebound Heroes, most projects include modest home repairs, equipment installation, integration of smoke alarms and even safety bars to help prevent falls. Some projects are more extensive.

As an example, this past Veterans Day, U.S. Army Veteran, Sgt. Joseph Harris, 74, received assistance from the OCOA and The Home Depot Foundation for a series of improvements to his St. Cloud home. A new oven was installed to better prepare meals, the house was painted and damaged walls and ceilings were repaired, and a toilet was replaced among other projects.

More than 15 volunteers from the St. Cloud Home Depot traveled to Sgt. Harris’s home to support extensive outdoor cleanup projects while also adding new greenery and mulch for landscaping. Harris served in the Army from 1965-69 during the Vietnam War, and was a pharmacist and M-14 skilled sharpshooter before serving in the Army Reserve.

“Partnering with the Osceola Council on Aging is one of the best things we have done in this community to support Veterans,” said Ron Potvin, store manager for the St. Cloud Home Depot. “The Helping Homebound Heroes partnership means the world to my staff by honoring these Veteran’s for their service and commitment to keep our freedoms intact and our Country safe. We are proud to work to keep them independent as long as they want to live in their own homes.”

As stated by Potvin, we, too, at the OCOA are proud to celebrate and honor our Veterans who served this great nation. We are thankful for the partnership we have with The Home Depot Foundation and their tremendous support in helping our seniors keep their independence to remain in their homes. The OCOA is proud to serve our local Veterans by supporting this extremely important program. For more information on the Helping Homebound Heroes program, call 407-933-9523.

To see more guest columns by Wendy, go to https://osceolagenerations.org/councils-corner/

Published Wednesday,  November 17, 2021