Advocates working to build home for veteran

In months to come, when a newly built house in Sharptown is finished, the keys will be ceremoniously presented to a family of three, who will live there without the burden of a monthly mortgage payment.

That family, comprising a 26-year-old veteran who served as a foot soldier in Afghanistan, his wife and their 3-year-old daughter, are currently living at Home of the Brave in Milford, but, thanks to labor and money donated by a caring community, they will have a place to call their own.

“We want to help someone who has had struggles, maybe somebody who’s wounded, somebody who has PTSD, somebody in need or coming out of a facility and looking for a place,” said C.H. Brittingham, who, with his son, Brandon and locals including Michelle Wright of Hebron, is determined to see ground broken and construction begin.

“The goal is that, once this home is done and this young veteran is able to get back into society and get back on his feet, they will maintain the home. They will be responsible for all the bills, as far as taxes, electric, food, utility bills, but they won’t have a mortgage. So, if you can take that mortgage payment off them, they don’t have that worry each month. This allows them to start out being a family and being able to contribute back to society,” Wright explained.

She is confident community members will give freely of their skills to complete a 1,200-square-foot, three bedroom, two-bathroom structure valued at $170,000, then build one each year for other veterans.

“With the difficulty of what we had to go through, to try and figure it all out, I can just imagine how hard it would be if you’re a veteran returning from a war zone, not having the time, not knowing where to start. And if you have something like PTSD, it can be really, really hard,” Brandon Brittingham said, referring to applications, permits, fees and necessary paperwork.

At the heart of the project are the Greater Salisbury Committee, Maryland-Delaware Group of Long and Foster, where the younger Brittingham is a realtor, and local contractors, plumbers and electricians. Wright embraced the endeavor after hearing about it at a Greater Salisbury Committee meeting.

The idea was born, Wright said, when Salisbury University students studying marketing were looking for a project and approached Long and Foster.

“Brandon Brittingham and his father said, ‘Let’s do this for real,’” Wright said.

They pitched the idea to the GSC, whose members liked it.

“We found a veteran and we found the land and now we’re working out the logistics to make sure that location is going to work for the veteran, and then we got a bunch of commitments for people to build the house,” Brandon Brittingham said.

“Farmers Bank of Willards helped us with securing the land at a substantial discount. A lot of different tradesmen have agreed to get involved and help with it. I didn’t realize how difficult it is. And I think that’s some of the stuff veterans are dealing with, all the stuff you have to go through,” he said.

“I can’t wait for the home to be completed and see the faces of the receiving family when it’s time to move in,” Wright said.

She and her family own Wright’s Market and have a donation box there.

Wright’s Market’s annual Watermelon Festival, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 28, has been deemed Home For A Hero Awareness Day. The market will be the drop-off point for items the family members will need, as they set up housekeeping.

Wright is also organizing pages in the Salisbury Independent newspaper, where locals can have accolades to veterans printed.

“You can donate $5 and pay tribute to your hero in the military. I will buy a page and the Salisbury Independent will give me a page. Forms are online at wrightsmarket.com and at the market,” she said.

So that items such as dishes, linens, lamps and shower curtains are provided before the family moves in, a registry has been opened at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Donors can make purchases and take them to Wright’s Market.

The goal is to raise $15,000, but Wright said she’s like to see $25,000, so organizers can buy what isn’t donated.

“I’m very hopeful seeing the response that I have gotten, but we still have some holes to fill. We need some monetary donations because we have to pay for hook-up fees and impact fees and things like that,” she said.

“We will be selling ballots for the community to purchase so they can vote for Best In Show at the car show during the Watermelon Festival.  The Late Great Chevy Club is here every year and they have agreed to let this be another way of raising money. Organizations including Hero’s Haven, Hogs Heroes Foundation, local VFWs and American Legions have volunteered to help with funds or volunteer time or even both,” she said.

Wright became involved in the project after hearing C.H. Brittingham speak at a Greater Salisbury Committee meeting.

“He was trying to find help, to get businesses to donate materials or labor or provide money. He had a spreadsheet that listed the foundation of the house, framing, siding, the roof, plumbing, electric, all the pieces to build a home. I came back from the meeting and I wondered how I could help. Later that night, at 2 a.m. the next morning, I woke up thinking, ‘How do we make the community know about this and get this done?’” she said.

“I called Mike Dunn, the CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee, then C.H., and said, ‘I have some ideas. Can we meet?’  C.H. said, ‘Whatever you can do to help us raise money,’” she said.

The hope is to go to settlement on the Sharptown property in the next few weeks.

“My dad, Jackie Moore, was in the Delmar Fire Department. He was in the Army. My mother, Linda Elliott, was active with Mardela schools. She was in the PTA. She was a homeroom mother. She did it all. My mother has always been involved in our school activities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, all of that. So, I have grown up helping and doing things.

“I have helped with Relay for Life. I was appointed by the governor to serve on the Wicomico County Board of Education for six years. Our family is always trying to help the community in some way and I enjoy it,” Wright said.

“We wanted to give to someone who has given the ultimate service for us, given up years of their lives,” the senior Brittingham said.

“They might have been injured or damaged in some way – PTSD or physically injured. Now they came back and they are in need. We want someone that, once we build this house, will be able to, whether with their pension or some sort of partial income, will be able to pay their utility costs,” he said.

“The type of people you’re doing this for, they go out and give of themselves. Sometimes they give limbs. They go out and fight for our freedom and they aren’t the kind of people who ask for anything in return.

“This is an example of the community stepping up and taking care of somebody who was willing to take care of us,” he said.

“The Eastern Shore takes care of each other.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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