Neighbors in North Tonawanda offer a warm welcome to Iraq war veteran
A veteran of the Iraq War, Schaus lost both of his legs after he stepped on a land mine, while serving a tour in Afghanistan. Humbled by the generosity of complete strangers, Schaus stood proudly and addressed the crowd of unfamiliar faces who were waiting intently to get the ball rolling on the construction of the handicap accessible home.
“It’s amazing to see a community, and a country, come together to take care of it’s own,” said Schaus.
Schaus was accompanied by his mother Cynthia Martello, his aunt Sharon Martello and his grandmother Carol Martello. Among others who attended the opening ceremony were representatives from Homes for Our Troops, the organization that made this ‘American Dream’ a reality for Schaus; North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt; Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana and a handful of neighbors and residents who proudly displayed their patriotism and respect for Schaus for standing at the front lines of our nations defense.
Ortt, a veteran himself, brought tears to the eyes of those present as he reflected on his own loss of comrades while he too, served in Afghanistan. He continued on to say “it’s not only the veterans who serve to protect our country, but the families that stand behind those soldiers as well.”
He proudly recognized Schaus’s family as he welcomed the veteran to the community.
Among the crowd, which was filled with many silent soldiers who served in Vietnam, was Retired Army Staff Sergeant Earl Granville, who was also injured while serving. Granville spent time with Schaus recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has previously worked with Homes for Our Troops and is a recipient of a home.
He had a few kind words to say to Schaus.
“You are a perfect example of a Marine and I don’t know anyone who deserves this more than you,” said Granville.
After a brief ceremony filled with powerful, kind words, volunteers headed toward the sight donated by local contractor Mike Wachowicz, to put up the first wall.
Working for three days straight, volunteers were able to meet their goals of completing the frame, foundation, doors, windows and roof by their July 29 end date.
Left a little speechless after receiving such an overwhelming outpouring of assistance, Schaus was thrilled to learn the volunteers were all their in support of him.
His mother Cynthia, a Town of Tonawanda resident, held back tears of joy as she saw the appreciation North Tonawanda residents were showing her son.
This process, which was able to be completed in approximately one-year, was led by the efforts of Ortt who received word of a veteran who was interested in building a home in The City of North Tonawanda. After speaking with Homes For Our Troops, Ortt was able to spread the word locally.
To his surprise, there was an overwhelming amount of people who wanted to help. Wachowicz, who is also a veteran, made this build brigade a reality by donating the parcel of land is such a selfless manner.
Homes for Our Troops has created 100 homes in 37 states across the country.
Homes for Our Troops Executive Director Dawn Teixeira noted, “This was all made possible for these veterans by the generosity and patriotism of people. We have a handful of people who we call Key Volunteers. Those are the people that make this happen each time.”
Schaus’s new home on Sherwood Avenue is now successfully framed and ready for the next step of the building process. The house was built with no cost to Schaus. Although volunteers have made this dream come true so far, it’s not over yet. There will be a Volunteer Day held Sept. 15 at Schaus’s new home to complete the landscape around the home.
For more information about Homes for Our Troops visit www.homesforourtroops.org.