GLENDALE, Ariz. — Often times we think of our veterans as heroes without capes, but in reality, some face huge obstacles after they’ve served our country.
Last week, 13 students from the Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) got hands-on experience in masonry and compassion for the community.
“I brought them out of the laboratory and to the field,” said Charlie Ellis. “It’s rebuilding homes and lives.”
Ellis is an instructor and founder of the nonprofit called Operation Enduring Gratitude that helps rebuild homes for disabled veterans.
The project in Glendale is a major makeover for the home of a Korean War Navy veteran who passed away recently. The home was nearly condemned and his widow was unable to pay for much-needed repairs.
Charlie Ellis is not only the instructor, he’s an Army veteran. He says we often put our veterans on a pedestal and forget many are struggling.
“Superheroes get hurt, and they won’t ask for help. Then they live a very discomforted life,” Ellis said.
One of the student volunteers also feels a connection with this home. His grandfather also served in the Navy.
“It feels good. We get to better their lives. Make it a place they’d rather live than what they were before,” Gabriel Gourgue explained.
“Our mission, our battle is here in the community. Helping people that need help that nobody else will help,” Ellis said.
Ellis says he plans on bringing the student volunteers back when the home is fully remodeled to celebrate the big moment.
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