Operation Forever Free Honored For Helping Injured Veterans
Operation Forever Free, a nonprofit organization founded by Centurion American Development Group of Bedford, Texas, was honored by the National Housing Endowment — the philanthropic arm of NAHB —for helping injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan readjust to civilian life.
Operation Forever Free provides transportation assistance, home modifications and, in some cases, new homes for the veterans.
“We wanted to give back to the community, and helping returning veterans was an obvious choice,” said Brad Biber, director of Operation Forever Free. “There are too many young men and women coming back home injured whose chance at a normal life has been taken away. We in the building industry have a unique opportunity to help these men and women improve their lives, simply because of our expertise.”
Biber said Operation Forever Free volunteers from Centurion and its contractors remodel veterans’ homes to make them “user friendly” and provide other assistance. Each veteran’s needs are reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Operation Forever Free has built and donated a 2,100-square-foot, accessible home valued at $150,000 to a soldier confined to a wheelchair.
Seeing the looks of excitement and relief on the faces of the soldier and his family when they were handed the keys to the home was “most memorable,” Biber said.
The family no longer has to worry about mortgage payments, and the home’s accessibility gives the soldier back “a part of his life that was taken away,” Biber said.
Operation Forever Free was awarded the 2006 Honorable Mention – Iraq Veterans National Housing Endowment Builder Achievement Award for Outstanding Community Service — which includes a $1,000 charitable donation. The award was presented during the 2007 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. earlier this year.
Four designated Centurion employees volunteer 1,500 hours to manage and implement Operation Forever Free projects each year. Begun in December 2005, Operation Forever Free has assisted seven families.
“The National Housing Endowment is proud to honor the tremendous charity of Centurion American and Operation Forever Free,” said Gary Garczynski, endowment chairman and 1992 NAHB president. “One of the criteria for this award is to do something that organizations around the country can replicate. This is a great example of pairing the expertise of our industry with the heroes of our military in practical, impacting ways.”
Twelve Others Honored With Builder Achievement Awards at IBS
Twelve other builders were honored with gold, silver, bronze and honorable mention Builder Achievement awards during the presentation at the builders’ show.
For the complete list of the winners and a description of their projects, click here.
The awards were established through a grant to the endowment by Isaac Heimbinder, chairman of Potomac, Md.-based BuildTopia, a provider of Web-based construction management software for home builders.
For more information on this award, visit www.nahb.org.