Above & Beyond: Veteran volunteers renovating basement for homeless vets

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Liberation Family Services, a local organization that houses and helps homeless veterans, was looking for a way to expand.

One Sunday, Executive Director Jay Patrick visited Sandston Presbyterian Church and talked to their congregation about all the organization does to help veterans in the Richmond area. Sitting among the crowd was retired contractor Lee Conner.

“He took a tour of the facility and wanted to how he and his church could help us the most and we had an idea to renovate the basement,” Patrick said.

Conner volunteered to take on the challenge. He said he made some calls and rounded up 11 of his friends.

“The average age is 76-years-old and our oldest worker is 89-years-old,” Conner said. “We’ve been working here ever since.”

Most of the team are veterans themselves. Volunteer and U.S. Marine veteran Jim Saunders said that together, they are building a bedroom area, bathrooms and showers in the basement.

“When we’re finished here, this will allow them to take another 35 veterans off the street,” Saunders said.

Patrick said he only wishes there were enough words to explain how grateful he is for Conner’s crew and all the work they have done for the organization.

“This is what I think communities should be made of is individuals, who are willing to do what they can with what they have to make a difference and I think Lee has done,” Patrick said. “He’s taken his experience as a construction company owner for 40/50 years and he’s taken that experience and he saw where he could give back to solve a need in the community and I think we can all take a note from that. If we all just did a little bit more with what we have, I think all of our communities would be a lot stronger and would be a lot better off.”

Conner and his team want to thank a list of organizations that have donated and helped their cause: Engineering Design Association, 84 Lumber, Be-Dry, ABC Building Supply, Lee Conner Realty and Construction, Home Depot, Sandston Presbyterian Church, Ferguson Enterprises, HAJOCA, VAMAC Inc., Richmond Plumbing and  Gundlac.

If you know someone doing something special in the community, tell us about it by emailing iReport8@wric.com. 

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