The Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program and The American Legion recently teamed up with local volunteers to build a wheelchair ramp for a disabled World War II veteran.
The project began May 9 and included about 30 volunteers from Home Depot in Dawsonville and other local veterans at the residence of Fred D’Orazio, who sustained injuries while serving in Germany under Gen. George S. Patton during the war.
“I’m very thankful for The American Legion for stepping up here and taking care of my father,” said D’Orazio’s daughter, Jeanne Curry. “I can’t thank Home Depot enough, and I can’t thank all the volunteers enough. It seems like thank you is not good enough…I feel like what the community does for the veterans is for the veterans.”
The project was two years in the making, Curry said. She and her husband decided then to build an apartment-style home for her father, who had become confined to a wheelchair, in the basement of their house.
In March 2017, Curry first contacted Frederick Brown, store manager of Home Depot in Dawsonville, after she heard he was active in helping veterans. After a time, she also decided to appeal to a nonprofit to assist with labor for the project.
That’s when The American Legion learned of the situation, stepped in and began coordinating the project with Home Depot. Brown then reached out to store captains at different Home Depot locations to find anyone who would be willing to lend a helping hand.
With the assistance of Jim Lindenmayer, director of the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program and service officer for American Legion Post 45, Brown organized and assembled a host of volunteers and donated the supplies to put the project into action.
The grant was jointly submitted by both Home Depot and The American Legion to the Home Depot Foundation. It was reviewed and approved weeks in advance before the project began construction. Once the store employees and veterans heard about the ramp project and D’Orazio’s situation, they immediately started work on the ramp.
“It’s just very humbling to be able to work for somebody like Fred,” Brown said of the World War II veteran. “Somebody that has seen so much of his life and just to see his heart and his compassion and, of course, the family as well. Truly, they made us feel like family…it was just an amazing experience. All of us working together was pretty amazing…a lot of us hadn’t worked together before…everything was as smooth as could be.”