November 11, 2012 [The Plain Dealer]
Today is a good day to visit 1171 Avondale Road in South Euclid.
The post-World War II bungalow will be the site of a unique Veterans Day event that combines collaboration, community involvement and a heartfelt commitment to welcoming wounded warriors home.
The “mission launch” begins at 10 a.m. Center stage will be a single-family residence that has become the first Purple Heart Homes project in Ohio. The national nonprofit bought the foreclosed property from the Cuyahoga County land bank for $1. Now it needs to raise $60,000 to $70,000 as well as a volunteer army of do-it-yourselfers to renovate the place.
It will then be sold to Demond Taylor, a 38-year-old combat survivor who did two tours in Iraq. Taylor works for the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration, assisting amputees. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He feels hollow, adrift, living in a rented apartment.
But Taylor is starting to put down roots. He got married in March. Now Purple Heart Homes — after an extensive vetting process — has selected him to be the first recipient of their housing program in Ohio.
“It means the world to me,” Taylor said. “To have a home. To have a family. It solidifies the idea that I do have a place in this life.”
And in the community. “Our goal is to welcome veterans like Demond and take care of them just like they took care of us,” said Keith Ari Benjamin, director of community services for South Euclid.
What better way to say, “Thank you”?