The July 6 home game of the Purcellville Cannons at Fireman’s Field will be a momentous occasion—not just for baseball fans, but for a special announcement that will be made after the fifth inning of the Cannons HeroHomes Night.
HeroHomes, a Purcellville nonprofit foundation dedicated to “building houses, jobs, and community for those who have fought for the preservation of freedom and democracy for others,” will introduce the first disabled veteran to receive a free HeroHome house. The home is under construction at 712 Irvine Bank Lane in Village Case in Purcellville.
Jason Brownell, president of Bruce Brownell Inc., is spearheading construction of the home.
The 2,100 square-foot, one-story, three-bedroom home features solar power and energy efficient green technology. While the home does not feature all the technological bells and whistles incorporated into a Lovettsville house Brownell helped to build for disabled veteran Tony Porta, it has been designed to offer every convenience for the former Apache helicopter pilot. The veteran spent two-and-a-half years at Walter Reed Hospital following a severe injury to his spine suffered in a hard landing while serving in Afghanistan in 2013. The 20-year veteran has more than 2,500 hours of flying time and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan five times.
In addition to the back injuries, he has a multitude of other injuries suffered through his time in the Army, including PTSD. He is in the process of getting his medical discharge and retirement completed and is due to be released from Walter Reed in a couple of months.
Brownell, Aimee McGranahan and Matthew Lowers, who serves as HeroHomes president, founded the company last year. They were joined in January by Scott Gessay, who serves as CEO. All serve as volunteers.
The company received its tax-exempt status last fall. It hopes to deliver the home by October.
“Basically, my role is to help Jason, Matt and Aimee and the board get organized—they all have full-time jobs, and I just retired as CEO of a company I founded in 1987,” Gessay said, noting he had extensive experience of working with the military. He hopes to use his experience to help with financial management, volunteer organization and fundraising.
Through cash and in-kind contributions, the company has raised nearly $300,000 of the $500,000 needed to complete the house.
HeroHomes has a several fundraisers scheduled throughout the summer and fall, including the July 3 HeroHomes Hootenanny at Stoneleigh Golf and Country Club, and the Aug. 20 HeroHomes Cruise-In classic car and motorcycle show in Purcellville. Gessay said the company would continue to pursue corporate and government grants.
With what has been raised so far, “We’ve got a pretty solid path [to completion]” Gessay said.
He shares the HeroHome belief that the company’s vision is not just to build a home for disabled veterans, but to make them a part of their community.
Brownell owns seven acres in Village Case and plans to allocate lots for four more homes. “We would continue to support fundraising initiatives in the community to push this forward,” Gessay said.
Brownell said the foundation would be giving the veteran not just a well-built, solid house, but also a brighter future. The selected veteran is unable to work because of his disabled back.
“He had no future before; his wife was living in Ohio—now they have a home in western Loudoun,” Brownell said.
“We want to make western Loudoun a place for these guys,” Brownell said.
And it’s a home that comes with huge support from a variety of suppliers, who have provided everything from cabinets, kitchen and bath equipment to construction materials and financial assistance.
“People just want to help,” Brownell said.
And help they have, he said, citing just some of those who have given in-kind donations. Steve Jacobus, of Loudoun Valley Flooring, has donated all the flooring in the home, as well as helping HeroHomes with newspaper advertising and fundraising. Paul Augustine, of Augustine Plumbing has donated the entire plumbing system and connected HeroHomes with other contractors who have helped.
Joe Pereira, of United Foundations, discounted his work on the foundation work by $16,000. As a Portuguese immigrant, Brownell said Pereira has “made it” in America and felt compelled to give back himself. Tony Jasinski, of TJT Corporation did site work for free, also excavating and backfill. A lifelong friend, Brownell said, “he is a construction expert who has my back and whatever I need for the build.” Stoneleigh Golf and Country Club has given a golf membership also.
Others have chipped in financially, Brownell said, citing one man who just came up to him and pressed a sizeable check into his hand.
A member of the company’s inner circle, Michael Gaul has provided help with marketing and setting up the website, while Allison Dillow has given help with social media, events and photography.
He hopes to have a full house in the bleachers at Firemans Field on July 6. “We can’t have a single empty seat,” he said. “We need to show this guy it’s his community.”
Learn more at herohomesloudoun.org.