Teens Rebuild Home for Veteran Robbed of His Home Repair Savings

Teens Rebuild Home for Veteran Robbed of His Home Repair Savings

June 1, 2021 by Cathy Stack

Muncie, Ind. – Seventy-seven-year-old Vietnam veteran John Holaday saved up enough money to purchase a home with cash.  He had  $8,000 leftover, which he planned to use for home repair renovations.   However, he was hit with a devastating financial and emotional blow when the contractor he hired stole all his money.   A group of caring high school students stepped in and decided to help.  The group of 26 teenagers pulled together, worked hard and rebuilt the entire home — incredibly, in just 51 days.

After the hired contractor stole all of John’s money, he could not afford to make any of the necessary home repairs. He was then forced to reside in the home without electricity, insulation, flooring, water or sewage for over a year.      

John was never one to complain or ask for help from others.  So, even in his time of crisis, he quietly struggled through the hardship alone.  During a routine visit, Nate Jones, a Veterans Affairs officer, discovered how his friend John was living. Nate was shocked at the unsafe living conditions and reached out to his community to find a solution.

When John’s community learned of his plight, they stepped in to help find a way to right the wrong.   A local group of volunteer high school students of the Muncie Area Career Center decided to intervene.   They felt a sense of obligation to help the veteran.   They wanted to honor all the sacrifices that he and all other veterans have made for our country.   So, the students called on the help of Jeremy Penrod, their construction technology teacher.   The teacher agreed to assist the teens. 

After inspection, it was determined that the home was in such disrepair that it would be best to tear it down and rebuild it from the ground up.  Jeremy led the project and laid out the construction plans for John’s new home.  Then the students went right to work on the ambitious mission. 

The local community generously helped support the project with monetary, material and labor donations. “This community really rallied together, and, man, it didn’t matter what we would’ve asked of them, ” Jeremy recalled. 

“They (the students) didn’t complain one day.  They worked in the rain; they worked in the snow,” said Jeremy, clearly impressed with the young students. 

The teens showed up every morning, grabbed their tools and assignments, and worked together as a team all day. They performed various duties such as framing and drywall.  They usually had no idea what the day’s work or weather would involve, yet they persevered. 

“There’s guys in here that, the first day they came in here, they didn’t know how to read a tape measure,” high schooler Jayden Stevenson recalled.   Despite not being professional contractors, the students  completed the construction job in an astonishing 51 days. 

The group of teens, as well as friends and neighbors, were all present to welcome John to his newly remodeled home.   The anticipated moment arrived for the home’s unveiling.    As soon as John pulled into the driveway and got a glimpse of his beautiful home, he wept, overcome with emotion.  He was incredibly grateful for the group’s hard work and dedication, as well as the community’s unwavering support.

As he walked across the yard to his brand-new home, the crowd yelled encouraging words, welcoming him home and thanking him for his service. “You were there for us. We’re here for you, now,” yelled one supporter.

“So many people donated their time and money to make it come true for this old man,” John said through tears of joy.   “I never believed this could happen,” he told the crowd.

Once inside the new home, John excitedly explored each immaculate, freshly painted and brightly decorated room.  He noticed Army memorabilia placed on the wall, along with a brand- new veteran’s hat placed by the door.   It was a touching tribute that the group left to honor John’s service.  

“You guys have made us proud,”  Jeremy posted on the group’s Operation John Holaday Facebook page.  “We are so thankful for this opportunity, and these students have made memories that will last a lifetime,” he added.

“Thank you for your service, and enjoy your new home, Mr. John Holaday,” the teens posted directly to the veteran. 

PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believe these high school students are true heroes. Their action is a wonderful example of the value of helping others.  They have shown us all how much good we can accomplish when we work together to achieve a common goal. The group’s selfless determination helped make a veteran’s dream home become a reality.  The teens built the home on the foundation of honor, respect and kindness. 

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Your Comments
Patty from fire island ny JULY 1, 2022
It is heartwarming that these kids worked so hard and the community gave so much! We can never really thank our veterans enough for all they sacrifice. Hopefully we can see more of this going on. My heart and spirit will feel lifted for a while over this! Sooo much better than the ugly daily news!

Lynise L Tarring from Hilo, Hawai'i  JUNE 30, 2022
I thank each one of your gentlemen who helped this vetern. Your sweat and labor gave us all hope to help each other. We're all in this life together. God Bless you All.

Kingsley from Ghana JUNE 30, 2022
Very touching to read this story. There still are good people out there in this world. Thanks to all the teens and the local community for coming to aid of the veteran

Mindy from Southwest Texas JUNE 30, 2022
What a heartwarming story. Those teenagers are truly inspiring young Americans & helping this Veteran was an honorable thing to do. I admire each one of them & hope they will continue the right path going forward in their lives. Way to go!

Amit from Dallas, TX JUNE 30, 2022
We need more stories like this to inspire good in others. Too much bad news on the TV.

Anonymous JUNE 3, 2021
With all the bad going on in our world there is a hundred X*s more good!!!

Mare McAnany from Philadelphia PA JUNE 2, 2021
This inspiring story is proof there are heroes among us that we usually are not blessed to be aware of. Thank you sincerely, PassItOn for sharing this story of others out there whose character & caring take our breath away. These young men will be leaders down the road, as their lives continue. This beloved Veteran, John Holaday will remain in our memories & prayers. He has surely earned all the goodness that came into his life. In these difficult times in all of our lives, enduring this pandemic, PassItOn has shown us that character & goodness prevail and will endure. Thanks from the bottom of my entire Family's hearts for a story that represents what America & Americans are all about. And thank you for your service, beloved Veteran John Holaday.

Ken from Idaho JUNE 2, 2021
So awesome to see the outpouring of help, led by high school students most of whom don't understand, let alone appreciate what it means to have served in uniform.

Kalindi from KENTUCKY JUNE 2, 2021
Thank you Munich Indiana teens and other true leaders ...all of you will change the world one kindness at a time... Bless you folks

Wendy from Hunlock creek. Pa JUNE 2, 2021
So amazingly wonderful to see this story! You give me hope that people do care and You will all be blessed for your kindness Continue to “ be the change” we need in this world!

Anonymous JUNE 2, 2021
Goes to prove America's teens will pull together and do whatever it takes to make America proud! God bless those serving our country to keep us safe and allowing us to be free to help others.

Mary Lou Golden from Delaware JUNE 2, 2021
These teenagers are true heroes for what they did for this veteran :))..God bless them all :))

Anna Vassilian from Houston Texas JUNE 2, 2021
Incredible! How do I contact the person who started that to participate?

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