It’s a cold and rainy morning in early November. Snow is in the forecast as temperatures will drop below freezing throughout the day. The conditions are far from ideal for any outdoor activity, let alone labor-intensive construction work.
And yet, this is the setting for volunteers as they spend their day installing a handicap accessible ramp for a Vietnam War veteran.
Louis Hairston is that veteran. He’s used to adversity.
In 1967 and 1968, his life was on the line for his country in Vietnam. Stationed as a Forward Observer radio operator near the Demilitarized Zone, Hairston ran operations and radioed for artillery and air support to keep the enemy from advancing.
Now, in 2019, Hairston needs a different kind of support. With an upcoming bone marrow transplant and necessary follow-up treatments, Hairston will have to use a wheelchair to get in and out of his home or be forced to stay in the hospital for a lengthy period of time.
There’s a problem, however. Hairston’s home doesn’t have wheelchair access.
“I’m going to be weak and I won’t be able to walk,” Hairston said. “My daughter won’t be able to get me down the steps and into the car.”
Enter Bronze Star Homes and Purple Heart Homes.
Lowe’s has partnered with Bronze Star Homes, led by COO & Owner Rob Moore, to fund ramps and tiny homes that are built and installed for veterans in need. The components are assembled by veteran volunteers at a warehouse before being fully completed on location.
“We have cases where a veteran is pretty much stuck in his house unless someone comes and physically carries him down the steps,” Moore said. “When we leave, they’re able to wheel in and out of their houses or use their canes. It gives them great freedom.”
For Louis Hairston, that freedom means everything.
It’s late afternoon before the volunteers from Purple Heart Homes have made the last cut and drilled the last screw into place. As the sun breaks through the clouds, a brand-new wooden ramp leads into Hairston’s home.
“There’s no way that I can thank them for what they’re doing,” Hairston said. “I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.”