Manatee Habitat for Humanity collaborates with Legacy of Valor

Pounding hammers and singing nail guns are music to veteran's ears

vmannix@bradenton.comOctober 23, 2013 

BRADENTON

The pounding of boots and hammers and nail guns on the roof reverberate throughout the modest house on Danny Drive.

It started two weeks ago and figures to go on at least another four.

Anthony and Mary Driscoll are fine with it.

Noise? What noise?

The sound being made by Manatee County Habitat for Humanity volunteers was like a symphony to them.

"I'd rather deal with this," said Driscoll, 45, a disabled Army combat veteran who spent 26 years in uniform, while petting his service dog, Onyx.

"It's loud, but it means our roof is being fixed," his wife said, holding their 2-year-old daughter, Selah.

Habitat volunteers such as John Zimmerman, a 64-year-old Vietnam combat veteran, were happy to oblige.

"The work Habitat does makes you feel good, but to help other vets means a little bit more," he said.

The Driscolls are the beneficiaries of a collaborative effort between Legacy of Valor, a Patterson Foundation campaign to recognize the veterans community, and Manatee Habitat, a nonprofit that has built 109 homes for new families since 1994, in addition to rehabbing and repainting homes and installing wheelchair ramps for the elderly, disabled and veterans.

The Patterson Foundation funded the roofing project for $10,000 and, in addition, Manatee Habitat was one of 12 Legacy of Valor organizations chosen to receive matching funds during a month-long giving campaign for the Habitat Veteran Build program.

"This partnership has enabled us

to expand our effort to assist veterans with critical home repairs like Anthony Driscoll," said Diana Shoemaker, Manatee Habitat's executive director. "The matching funds will allow us to do more for veterans in our community."

That Driscoll is one of those veterans gives him mixed feelings.

The Booker High School alum joined the Army right after graduation, served in the Persian Gulf War and then a decade later in Iraq and Afghanistan. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and an auto-immune disease that affects his back, lungs and eyes.

Still, the former 82nd Airborne paratrooper is a proud man.

"It's difficult because I'm not used to asking people for help," Driscoll said. "But to see this many people working on the roof alleviates a tremendous amount of issues and makes our life a lot easier."

No doubt.

When part of the roof caved in last year, the cash-strapped couple paid for some stopgap work, but were unable to obtain any assistance to get the job done right.

"We asked people for help, but kept running into a brick wall," Mary Driscoll said. "We didn't know what we were going to do."

Then Manasota Operation Troop Support hooked them up with Manatee Habitat, which began its vetting process.

Still, they was skeptical.

"Even when Habitat first came through, we were like, 'Something's going to happen and it's not going to work out,'" Mary Driscoll said, tearing up. "So we couldn't believe it when people actually started working. We were truly blessed with this."

Actually, Habitat volunteer Frank Suppe said, it's the other way around.

"He put 26 years in protecting me," said the 72-year-old retired engineer. "So I can spend a few weeks helping him and his family."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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