When Eddie Felton got wind that his friend, John Greene, was spending some cold nights in his car, he knew he had to do something. However, he didn’t know that the home restoration project would take six months, involve an entire community, an American Legion Post, and a grant from Home Depot to make it happen.
But what began as a personal favor to a friend in July of last year has ended with John Greene, a 75-year old Army veteran, officially moving in to his newly refurbished home.
“We rebuilt the house from inside out,” says Eddie. “Everything in the house is basically brand new.”
The only thing that’s still needed are some of the basic necessities that truly turn a house into a home. Eddie and the team of volunteers are accepting cash donations for things like plates, window blinds, new linen, and sundries.
Eddie originally thought the project wouldn’t take more than a few weeks, but when he, and others, got in there and saw the condition John’s house was in, he knew he needed to enlist more help.
“There was termite damage and water damage to the roof; whenever it would rain, it would rain inside his house,” Eddie continues.
But now, John has a new roof, new floors, and a new outlook.
The realization of this long and challenging project was possible thanks to a chance encounter Eddie had at his local Home Depot.
“I was looking at different types of grants available for veterans to be able to get their homes refurbished,” says Eddie.
“We were able to get a $24,999 grant from the Home Depot Foundation. that came in just time for us to complete the project, as far as renovations are concerned.”
Christine Smith, supervisor of the pro-shop at the local Home Depot, made all of this possible, he says.
After she conducted a walk through to assess the house, the team quickly got to work. “Without her, there was no way possible we would get this finished at all.”
The grant from Home Depot wasn’t the only savior. People from all over the community came together to answer the call.
Businesses like Bankston Lumber Company in Barnesville, Ga. helped to keep hope alive by donating $1,500 for the long list of much needed repairs.
Walter Watson, a retired independent carpenter, decided to volunteer his time to help with Mr. Greene’s home. “I will tell you, if anyone needs any type of carpentry work done, I’ll recommend they call him,” says Eddie. “He knows his work and he does it well.”
He had to drive an hour each way, every day, spending his own money on gas with no compensation. And he did so proudly to be a part of the project, six days a week, since its inception in July.
“Most of the other work was done by volunteers,” says Eddie. “What was more of the spearheading of the project was the post commander of American Legion Post 516, Alton Head.”
Mr. Greene has been at the project site every day since the team of volunteers started working, and more recently has been staying off and on in his house, splitting time at his niece’s home.
But, just this past weekend, John officially moved back into his newly renovated house.
For John, the chance to sleep in his newly renovated home means the world.
“It feels wonderful, it feels real good,” says John. “They built me a new house all over!”
John served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1967-1969 as a mortarman assigned to a line platoon with the 1st Infantry Division, also known as “The Red One.”
Eddie says their GoFundMe is still active and while the website says $3,000 has been raised, those funds are depleted and just $167 is left on the grant to redo the outside and the yard. Those who wish to donate money can do so on the GoFundMe page.
While the news has made John ecstatic, the celebration is just starting. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 20th at 11:00am. Little Ceasar’s pizza will be donating food, and Eddie says everyone is invited. The address is 111 11th Street, Barnesville, Ga. 30204.
“It’ll be about an hour, and we’d like to invite everyone out to take a look and see exactly what a group of American Legionnaires can do when they put their minds to it. Post 516 is a benchmark for all posts around the country,” says Eddie.