Volunteers help fix up homes of 26 veterans

Posted at 5:02 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 17:02:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Volunteers from the Home Depot and Heart of West Michigan United Way were out in full force Friday working to improve the homes of West Michigan's veterans.

Over 250 volunteers participated in the day of service, working on the homes of 26 veterans living in Kent County.  Volunteers came from Home Depot, Steelcase, BDO, Choice One Bank, 5/3 Bank and Macatawa Bank.

Katelyn Kovalik, volunteer center manager at United Way, tells FOX 17, "So often people are looking for meaningful volunteer opportunities and for a chance to give back. So what better population than veterans, that served us? To take something off their plate, help make their home a bit more accessible, safe and a little more enjoyable. That's what today is all about."

FOX 17 spoke to Joe Clemens Friday, one of the veterans receiving services.  Clemens was a FOX 17 Pay it Forward Person of the Month back in January of 2017.

He runs 'Operation Phoenix' out of his home. The group works with veterans that are in the process of transitioning out of military service.

Clemens helps anyone who reaches out to find the resources they need.

Kovalik says he is the exact type of veteran they are looking to help.

"Joe gives back all the time, and we’ve heard that from a lot of our veterans. They’re used to being the helpers," Kovalik said. "They’re really self sufficient and resourceful. And they’re volunteering all the time in our community, so we think this is such a cool chance to give back to them and show them we care."

Clemens says the help is going to go a long way.

"This is going to be fantastic," he said. "With being able to house veterans here and having them have something nice for them to go out to in the backyard is going to be incredible ... showing there is more to life than being homeless or down on your luck. You know, living life."