Nonprofit Plans First Build In State For Clarksville Vet
Marco Robledo, a Clarksville man severely injured in a 2007 explosion in Iraq, is working to rebuild his life. Soon he will have a new, barrier-free home in which to continue his healing.
National nonprofit organization Homes for Our Troops has undertaken the project, its first in Arkansas. HFOT announced last week it has secured a parcel of land in Clarksville where it plans to build Robledo's home.
The organization is also searching for a general contractor to oversee the project and is recruiting help in the excavation and construction that goes into building a home.
Robledo, an Army sergeant, lost his left arm and much of his left leg to an IED blast that struck the Humvee in which he was the turret gunner.
He underwent more than two years of treatment at Walter ReedArmy Medical Center in Washington, D.C., which included being fitted with prosthetics and learning to walk. A left-hander, Robledo also had to teach himself to write and to do the drawing he loves with his right hand.
The home planned for Robledo will be adapted to his disability and needs. In a video on the HFOT website, (www.homesforourtroops.org) he said he looks forward to a residence with an entry door that is easier to use, stairway handrails and a larger, "roll-in" shower.
Brielle Day, a spokeswoman for the organization, said the veterans' homes also feature an open floor plan with wider doors and hallways, accessible kitchen cabinets and work spaces.
Day said the houses are provided to the veterans at no cost, providing them freedom from the financial worries of a mortgage.
HFOT, based in Taunton, Mass., was founded in 2004 by John Gonsalves, a career construction supervisor who, after studying the plight of the growing number of wounded American veterans, realized their critical need for suitable housing. He decided to apply his experience in the construction field toward addressing the problem.
This year HFOT completed its 100th home. The organization has undertaken a "100 More" campaign, with the goal of doubling its inventory over the next three years.
Day said the organization works closely with the veteran’s community in completing the project. A local general contractor is recruited to oversee the work, and local laborers work with volunteers to provide the labor.
“We’re in the very early stages of this project,” Day said Friday.
Donations of services, materials and needed funds are being solicited.
HFOT’s website provides more information about Robledo and opportunities to volunteer and to make donations. An account, Homes for Our Troops-Clarksville, has been set up to accept funds at any Regions Bank branch in Arkansas.
Once materials and volunteers are in place, Day said construction typically occurs quickly. In a weekend “Bridge Build,” workers assemble to kick off the project with a ceremonial raising of the first wall. The structure is framed and put under roof over the next few days.
The time needed for the balance of the construction varies, depending largely on availability of workers. Day said the organization’s 100th house was finished in several days, but some projects extend over weeks and months.
At completion, a public “key ceremony” is held, at which the house is turned over to the veteran and family members.