Lancaster students, community volunteers help Vietnam veteran
Gutowski, who is the planning officer for the Town of Lancaster Office of Emergency Management, put a plan into action that resulted in receiving support from other OEM volunteers, which brought about the involvement of the Lancaster High School Varsity Football Team.
Dave, who is a disabled Vietnam veteran, has suffered from three strokes and numerous heart attacks, and he is physically unable do any work on their home, explained Gutowski. Dave is only able to walk a few feet and he mostly gets around in a scooter. It is also not financially viable for the Lysec’s to pay somebody to have the work done.
The idea for project came from WNYHeroes, Inc. Facebook post, which Debbie contacted for help, said Gutowski.
A not-for-profit organization that provides veterans, members of the armed services, and the widows and children of deceased veterans with access to essential services, financial assistance and resources that support their lives and sustain their dignity.
“I adopted the ‘pay it forward’ model because you get it back in the end,” remarked Gutowski. “Also, people don't give enough kudos to the military people, especially guys like this who really are suffering. I just thought it was a good thing to do.”
It was at this time, Gutowski made contact with Debbie and the project was set in motion. Coming on board to help with the fix-up project, Mike Koscielny and Gary Blank, who are also members of the OEM, along with Msgt. Joe Herman, who decided to help with the project as well, visited the Lysec’s home to conduct a preliminary assessment of the home to see what needed to be repaired.
They discovered that the exterior of the house needed to be scraped and painted, some of the wood siding needed to be replaced, the concrete on the front porch stairs needed to be repaired, as well as a hole found in the stone chimney.
Koscielny, whose son, Brian, is a member of the Lancaster football team, suggested getting the team involved, which would help students meet service hours for school. Koscielny contacted Lancaster High School Head Football Coach Christopher Dickson and it was agreed the team would help.
“I thought what a great opportunity for the football team to come and volunteer some of their time,” said Koscielny.
On Friday, Aug. 3, the team scraped the entire lower half of the house and Saturday they came back and painted the main color on the same lower half.
Lancaster High School Football Player Brian Koscielny, senior, said the football team likes to get involved in community service projects, such as volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House every year and running a kids football camp.
“Our coach decided this would be another opportunity to get involved in the community and all of us need hours for school so it was also a good idea for that,” said Brian. “It feels good to help out. He [Dave] served our country so it is good to give back to him.”
Gutowski commented that Msgt. Herman said he and his military personnel could handle the concrete repair for the stairs and chimney.
In order to complete this project, Gutowski was able to receive monetary donations from AMVETS Buddy Knaus #14 Post and the Lancaster Support Our Troops program, in which painting supplies were purchased. Also, Dival Safety donated safety supplies and Msgt. Herman donated scarpers and paintbrushes. The Lowe’s Home Improvement store in East Amherst also provided a discount on paint.
Gutowski added the next step is to get paint for the trim and set a date to get that completed and if they can get it, paint for the porch.
“We are looking for a local contractor that has extension ladders that might want to tackle the second story work,” said Gutowski. “The paint has been bought and paid for”
If anybody is interested in helping out please call Gutowski at 570-2351.
“I just thought it was a unique situation, an opportune time to get something done and utilize the kids, because they're off from school and they needed service hours,” remarked Gutowski. We're in the business, our OEM guys, of helping people. That's why we're here to begin with. I think it is good to help out where we can.”