Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Joseph Small, a U.S. Army veteran injured in Afghanistan in 2009, received the keys to a new home Friday.
Wade Jurney Homes donated the home on Vick Street as part of the Operation Homefront Homes on the Homefront Program.
“It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe this,” said Small, after walking in the newly built, 1,001-square-foot residence in the Freeman Place subdivision near downtown Wilson.
Small, a Texas native who is single, was in the service for eight years as a construction equipment operator and airborne paratrooper.
“This is something that is going to change my life forever,” Small said. “This is going to propel me forward. This is something that everybody worries about, a roof over your head. I am choking up right now.”
This is the third house that Wade Jurney Homes has donated to veterans in North Carolina.
“This is a small house that we set up for the veteran. We built it. It is completely livable as of today, and it is dedicated to the home owner through Operation Homefront,” said Bob Brady, process compliance manager for Wade Jurney Homes of Greensboro. “All of the members of Wade Journey Homes respect all of our veterans out there and the sacrifices and their commitments to our country and our way of life, so this little bit that we can give back to the veterans is just a scratch on what they deserve. There’s hardly any words, the feeling that you get when you are able to give a home to somebody who really can’t afford it at the time. To be able to do this just fill every one of us with pride.”
Brady said the concrete, framing, drywall, painting and all of the trades were done by local companies.
“That’s what we do in all of the communities where we build,” Brady said.
Margi Kirst, chief development officer with Operation Homefront, said the mission of the national non-profit organization is to build strong, stable and secure military families.
“There is nothing that makes a family feel more stable than having a home,” Kirst said. “That’s why we have housing programs. We partner with builders like Wade Jurney. They donate the homes to us. We then find a very deserving veteran and then they enter the home.”
Operation Homefront trains the veterans on how to be successful homeowners.
“We have granted over 500 mortgage-free deeds and over 600 homes total here in the United States and many here in North Carolina,” Kirst said.
Wade Jurney Homes is a Greensboro-based company that has built homes for veterans in Salisbury and in Holly Ridge.
“Most of our families are disabled veterans, but we also look at if they have family in the area and if they have real ties because it’s not just about getting the home. It is about being part of the community,” Kirst said.
Wilson native Eric Edwards, broker/owner of Champion Realty and Investments, Inc. of Clayton, helped find the lot for the home.
“I remembered this project when it started back in 1998, and to be able to help get it going again and help a lot of people in this area means a lot to me,” Edwards said. “Veterans risk their lives daily for us to have our freedom, and then to be able to have the opportunity to give back and show them that we appreciate everything they do is really something special.”
Sarah Williams-Artis of Wilson Planning and Community Revitalization Department called it a blessing.
“It is a very heartwarming feeling to see someone who has served us now for us being able to serve him,” Williams-Artis said. “I think we can kind of help him out and make him feel at home while he is here.”
After his time in the service, Small decided to use the GI Bill to get his education at Campbell University. He is a junior studying business administration.
“He loves North Carolina,” Kirst said.
Small’s plan is to finish school and get a job working with the Veterans Administration.
“That way I can help give back to the other veterans and other military members,” Small said. “I can’t thank enough, Operation Homefront, Wade Jurney and the mayor and everybody for coming out. I just want to thank everybody that made this possible. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.”
Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose welcomed Small to the city.
“There a lot of good people in the world. Our veterans are very important,” said Mayor Bruce Rose. “Whatever we can do for them we need to do it, and we are glad to have him in Wilson.”