A New Home, a New Hope for Veterans Agent Chris Gomes
A new home is coming to East Freetown, but it's unlike any other in the area.
Homes for Our Troops, a veteran's charity foundation based in Taunton, is building a fully accessible, single-level home for retired Army Sergeant Chris Gomes.
Hundreds of people, including veteran groups and local residents, filled Freetown's VFW Post 6643 Saturday morning as part of a kickoff celebration to begin the project and welcome Gomes to the community.
Gomes, now New Bedford's Veteran's Agent, lost his leg while serving in Baghdad, Iraq in 2008. Since then, he has worn a prosthesis all day long. His current Cape style home in the city has tight walkways and close corners, making it difficult to maneuver. There's no room for a wheelchair, so there is little time to rest.
The new 2,650 square foot home will feature lowered counters, pull-down shelving, wide doorways and hallways, a fully accessible shower, automatic doors and emergency generator. It will also be mortgage-free.
With all the opportunity to finally be comfortable in his own home, Gomes couldn't even begin to imagine the possibilities.
"At this point, I honestly can't even imagine what it's going to be like because I've been struggling for so long right now on a prosthetic," Gomes said. "Check back with me in a few months after the house is built, I'm probably sure I'll have a million things that I have to tell you that are good about it."
Tim McHale, president and CEO of HFOT, said the work his organization does is not charity, but a serious need within the community.
"Homes for Our Troops does not believe that this is charity." McHale said. "We believe that it's a moral obligation to take care of the men and women who have protected our freedom and independence."
According to Catherine MacDonald, HFOT marketing assistant, the community kickoff was just the first stage in the project. A Volunteer Day will be held in late summer and the keys to the house should be turned over to the Gomes family sometime in the fall.
Many local businesses will take part in the project, including lead builder Long Built Homes of New Bedford.
Gomes' home will be the seventh built by HFOT in Massachusetts. There are currently over 200 homes in 42 states across the country.