Boardman Home Depot, in conjunction with AMVETS Post 44 of Struthers, participated in a Day of Service to local veterans and military families in need of minor home repairs. An army of volunteers met at the Home Depot store in Boardman at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, for a meeting/pep rally before heading out to their assignments.
Volunteers worked at four different homes in the Youngstown area. The individuals receiving minor makeovers were Specialist Daniele Strickland in Youngstown; James Carter, an 82-year-old World War II veteran in Youngstown; and Danny Vaughn, a disabled Army veteran in Youngstown. A fourth team of volunteers headed to Austintown and the home of Dorothy Ellis, the widow of a retired Marine Gunny Sergeant Charles Ellis, who had passed away in 1993.
"This is the Boardman Home Depot's third Day of Service with AMVETS Post 44," said Post 44 Commander Jan C. Brown. "The last two years, work has been on AMVETS Post 44 and Career Center, located at 305 Elm St. in Struthers. This year, the focus is individual veterans and their families that need minor repairs and home facelifts. All work is completed by Home Depot and other volunteers."
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Austintown Home Depot Assistant Manager Eric Thorpe oversaw a crew of Home Depot employee volunteers at the home of Dorothy Ellis of Austintown. They revitalized her back yard during the company’s “Day of Service” program.
Money for the projects this year came from the Home Depot Foundation. According to Assistant Manager Eric Thorpe from the Austintown store, the grant money is given out and it is up to local stores to use it to help with projects like the four completed last week. For Ellis, it brought back memories of the passion her late husband had for their back yard.
"My husband was an avid gardener," she said. "He laid the old patio in 40 years ago and always kept the back yard and our home in good repair. He would work from early morning until late at night, devoting long days to his garden."
After Charles passed away close to 20 years ago, the back yard got to be a little tough for Dorothy. She had hip replacement surgery and the rear patio blocks were upheaved and created a dangerous path for Dorothy to traverse.
"I also couldn't keep up on the weeds," she said.
It caused her grief to see the garden and patio in a state of disrepair after knowing how much her husband worked to keep it beautiful. That was enough reason for the Home Depot team to show up and give her back the beautiful patio.
The Home Depot crew was made of employees and most at the Ellis home were from the Austintown store. They arrived early in the morning on Thursday to an already cleared canvas. Thorpe said American Pride Excavating had donated their time and equipment on Wednesday to clear the old patio away and remove the debris.
The crew worked into the afternoon to lay down new brick pavers, pull weeds and restore the entire back yard, including repairs to a rear enclosed patio. As the new patio and walkway came together, both Dorothy and her daughter, Leigh Ellis, were in tears, thinking of Charles and his passion for the back yard.
"If he had been here today, he would have joined right in," Dorothy said.
Thorpe said it does the team members good too. He said seeing the joy they have brought to Dorothy and her daughter was priceless.
Thorpe said Home Depot Foundation has given $80 million over the past three years to help veterans and their families across the nation. Locally, the program has done well thanks to a partnership with Amvets Post 44.