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Nov 2, 2017

Four Things I’ve Learned From Serving Veterans

Sponsored Content provided by JC Lyle - Executive Director, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry


Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM), a grassroots nonprofit founded in 1996, completes urgent home repairs - including storm damage - and accessibility upgrades for low-income homeowners. Those who qualify receive help at no charge, and our wonderful army of volunteers complete most of the work.
 
Most WARM homeowners are elderly, disabled, single parents and/or military veterans who live on an average of $800 to $1,400 per month. They have managed their limited incomes well enough to own real estate in the Cape Fear region; they just need a little help from their community to continue living in their homes safely.
 
While it is a privilege to help all these individuals and families hold onto their homes, military veterans hold a special place in my heart. I’ve noticed some characteristics that all WARM veterans share and they are at the forefront of my mind this Veterans Day.
 

A Life Of Service has Endowed Them with a Special Kind of Pride

They all want to participate in the rebuilding effort as much as they are able. It is obvious they are not as comfortable receiving as they are serving others.
 
Richard served in Iraq and suffers from PTSD. When water intrusion caused the floors to disintegrate in the mobile home he shares with his wife and children, rodents came in through the holes in the floor. Richard worked alongside our volunteers and was actively involved in the fundraising campaign for his rebuild.   


They Want to Be Active

Many of the rebuilds WARM completes are accessibility upgrades for disabled veterans, and the completed work sets them free.
 
Ronald served in the Army and is confined to a wheelchair. He has never been able to afford to build a ramp on his home. For years, he has had to wait for his friends to help him get off his front porch for doctors’ appointments and errands.
 
Now, you can hear the whir of his motorized wheelchair zooming down the street visiting his neighbors and going to the store! It is moving to know WARM brought freedom to someone who fought for ours.

 
They Take Care of Each Other

Every year, WARM holds Veterans Day of Hope, a special rebuild event for two to three military veteran families. The volunteer slots fill up quickly because active duty and veteran organizations are eager to devote their day off to their fellow service members. Members of the Coast Guard, the Single Marines from Camp Lejeune, the Society of American Military Engineers, and the UNCW Student Veteran Organization are usually onsite.
 

Veterans are Humble About Their Service

WARM staff and volunteers do our best to thank the veterans we serve. We treat them like the heroes they are. But they have a strong sense of duty and tend to shy away from accolades.

“I was just doing what I’m supposed to do” said Julie, who served in the Army and is now in school to become a substance abuse counselor.
 
WARM’s staff and supporters take special care of our veterans because we believe these families have sacrificed enough. In fact, we’ve served almost all the veterans on our waiting list and are constantly working with local veterans groups to identify more.
 
If you know a veteran who cannot afford safety-related home repair, please call (910) 399-7563. Visit our website to learn more about our programs, find volunteer opportunities or make a donation to support these heroes and many others in need.

Combining her professional experience in the Cape Fear Region’s housing and real estate for-profit sector and volunteer experience with disaster recovery and housing-related nonprofits, JC Lyle (formerly Skane) was hired in 2009 to serve as the executive director of Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM). WARM is a grassroots nonprofit whose mission is to make homes safer by completing urgent repairs, accessibility upgrades and storm damage. Under her leadership, WARM has steadily grown from serving 44 households in 2008 to 155 households in 2016. Her public recognition includes Wilma Magazine's 2012 Woman to Watch in the Nonprofit Category, a 2014 Coastal Entrepreneur Award in the Nonprofit Category, given by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and UNC Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and invitations to speak at NC Center for Nonprofits Conference and NC Affordable Housing Conference. She will graduate in May with her Master of Business Administration at UNC-Wilmington.



 

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