Home Depot, Vets for Vets, team up to fix up wounded Pottstown veteran’s house POTTSTOWN MERCURY WWW.POTTSMERC.COM
A smiling Michele Labant watches as Home Depot employees get to work doing renovation work to her Pottstown home. Labant was injured while deployed in Afghanistan with the Pa. Army National Guard. John Strickler — The Mercury
By Mercury Staff
Employees from Home Depot along with Vets for Vets and Pottstown VFW 780 stand together with Pa. Army National Guard veteran Michele Labant before getting started doing renovation work to her Pottstown home. Michele Labant has owned her Cherry Street home for about 10 years.But with deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, she estimates she may only have spent about four years actually living there. As a result, maintenance has been an issue. Those issues multiplied in July, 2011, when the armored truck Labant was driving in northern Afghanistan was hit by an explosive device. Three soldiers were killed and five injured, including Labant, in the explosion.
A civilian processor for the Pottstown Police Department, Labant suffers from traumatic brain injury, a herniated disc, and back problems that “go down into my left hip.”And that’s where Home Depot comes in. As part of a recent push to have its “Team Depot” projects focus on helping veterans, $15,000 worth of work was recently undertaken at Labant’s home.
“We help whenever we can in the community,” Morrotto said, “but this project was special.”
She explained that while stores in the chain regularly undertake quarterly community service projects, the corporation recently “challenged us to find ways to give back to veterans.”
And give back they did.
Rather, that work was done by volunteers from Vets for Vets, a two-year-old Pennsburg-based non-profit organization founded by Jake Leone that works as a local network to connect vets who come with whatever they need.
“We help veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan who need help finding housing, a job, getting new training or who come home to a divorce, or get into trouble with alcohol or other substances,” said Leone, who himself just transferred from the Army Reserve to the Air National Guard.
“We just ask the vets to perform some community service in return,” he explained.
Leone said his organization, which has no paid staff, found out about Home Depot’s efforts when a different store hung some blinds at the renovated post office which serves as the group’s headquarters and temporary housing for veterans without.
“We knew Michele needed work done because she helped us out by giving us an old Ford Probe she had for a vet who needed a car,” said Leone. “That’s how we got plugged in to her.”
“We have a web site — www.soldertocivilian.org — where we sell hats and shirts to raise money and we could handle maybe $1,000, but $15,000 was a little more than we could muster,” Leone said with a laugh.So he put Labant in touch with Home Depot and, after a bit of paperwork, things worked out.
“We couldn’t handle what her house needed but because we’re networked with Home Depot, I know about this push to give back to veterans,” said Leone, “and obviously, Michelle has given enough.”