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  • Writer's pictureGreater Springfield Habitat for Humanity

Agawam veteran benefits from Home Preservation program

A 91-year-old Agawam veteran is the newest Hampden County homeowner to benefit from Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity’s (GSHFH) Veterans Build Home Preservation program. Renovations on Shor’ty’s home began this past summer and when the project finished, he gained a new fence, electric range and oven, updated electrical panel, and a walk-in shower for an affordable price.

Veterans Build is a Habitat for Humanity national initiative to provide housing solutions, volunteer, and employment opportunities for US veterans, military service members, and their families. The program serves limited-income homeowners who are affected by age, disability, or family circumstances, and struggle to maintain the condition and utility of their homes.

The home preservation program provides affordable micro-loans to qualifying homeowners who need help with accessibility modifications, home weatherization, general home repairs, yard cleanup, and landscaping. GSHFH works alongside volunteers and homeowners to make repairs.

“What I like the most about working with our veteran homeowners is hearing their stories about their time in the service and the pride they have. Shor’ty has a big personality and it wasn’t surprising to learn that he performed with the United States Organizations (USO) while in Korea and continued to perform once he was back states side,” said Aimee Giroux, Greater Springfield Habitat executive director. “As a fan of the blues, I love hearing about his music career and the people he has worked with.”

Shor’ty (pronounced Shor-tay) purchased the 1957 ranch home in 2020 and kept it in good condition. Only minor renovations were needed to allow him to safely age in place. Among them was the removal of a fallen tree, which wasn’t in the original scope but when a storm this summer took the tree down and portions of the fence Habitat added that to the work it did. Distinctive Tree Care of South Windsor, Connecticut donated their time to remove the tree. AmeriCorps NCCC River 4 Team replaced the fence that had been damaged. The gas range and oven were replaced with an electric option. These repairs occurred over the summer.

The bathroom modification happened in late October. The tub and shower were replaced with a walk-in shower with a safety seat and grab bars donated by Bath Fitter of Greenfield. This makes the bathroom much more accessible for Shor’ty.

Shor’ty, an Army private first-class served three years and earned three medals before his honorable discharge in 1956. Shor’ty qualified for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Program (VHRMP). The program gives competitive grants to nonprofits that serve lower-income disabled veterans. The grants can be used to rehabilitate eligible veterans’ primary residences.

Diane, Shor’ty’s caretaker and the mother of his three grown children, said they learned about Habitat from the local Department of Veterans Affairs and the representatives passed along the phone number to the Greater Springfield affiliate. Diane reached out and spoke with Aimee, and as they say, the rest is history.

“Aimee is the best. She’s now part of the family and Shor’ty hugs her when he greets her. She’s good people. Habitat too,” Diane said. “I like Aimee’s personality and her concern for people is what makes her so special.


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