The family of Army veteran Tom McDivitt got a little help Tuesday from volunteers with Habitat For Heroes, who were there to do some painting, carpentry, and general maintenance of their Stevenson Ranch home. McDivitt is the primary caregiver for his wife, Stacy and their four children, as well as a student learning new skills for the workplace.
Richard Doss, board chairman of Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley, under which Habitat For Heroes is run, welcomed the volunteers and a small band of observers, noting that in Santa Clarita alone, there are more than 10,000 veterans and an estimated 700 are expected to return from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. An additional 300 veteran commute to College of the Canyons as part of the GI Bill program from the surrounding valleys.
Habitat For Heroes has completed seven projects for local veterans in its one year of existence. In the next five years, he said that the group plans to build and/or rehab an additional 100 homes for veterans, their families and the families of the fallen in Northern Los Angeles County.
KHTS co-owner Carl Goldman, one of Habitat For Heroes’ founders, stepped up to talk about the day and significance of the service, asking for a moment of silence.
“In our Habitat For Heroes program, we also remember those who served in prior conflicts and peacekeeping missions, without those heroes, our country would not be what it is today.”
Goldman talked about the veteran receiving service from the community today, Army veteran Tom McDivitt, his wife, Stacy, and their four children.
“Today we are building at the McDivitt home, a family whose husband and father, Tom, served in the Army in the 1990s, finished his service and settled here with Stacy. Many recent changes have resulted in new scars. The economy has changed since his service and required his return to school to obtain new skills.”
Goldman went on to explain that Stacy had fallen ill, so Tom is now her full-time caregiver, as well as caregiver to their four children, two of which have special needs.
“Their once-beautiful home is no longer able to be kept whole and they need our help,” Goldman said. “We are thankful for Tom’s service and honored to assist their amazing family through these difficult times. We know we can never fully repay you for what you have done for us and our country, but today we hope to give what we can to give your family a chance at a better, more comfortable affordable life.”
As the volunteers cheered, Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar stepped up and spoke about our country’s debt of gratitude.
“I can’t say enough for the commitment of our military, what they do and you can tell with Habitat For Heroes how appropriate that we as a society stand behind them and make sure we can do all we can to restore their normal American lives,” Kellar said. “It’s not always easy folks, you know that, we know that, the challenge that these folks have.”
The date of the project was not lost on Kellar.
“There’s hardly a family that has not been touched as a result of 9/11. A couple of weeks ago, we had a gathering at my house, we had family and friends over and we celebrated because my wife’s son just returned from Afghanistan. I know what my wife went though with the worry having to do with her son.”
After the pep talk, project manager Steve Mercado rallied the volunteers, who trooped into the back yard and eagerly jumped into their assignments of scraping, sanding, hammering, painting and rebuilding.
For more information about Habitat For Heroes, visit habitatscv.org.