Manatee Habitat for Humanity, Patterson Foundation dedicate project

vmannix@bradenton.comMarch 12, 2014 

BRADENTON -- It happens almost every time Mary and Scott Driscoll pull up to their family's home on Danny Drive.

They sit for a few moments and stare at that new 2,000-square-foot metal roof shining in the sunlight.

"It's just like, 'Wow!' " the wife said. "We haven't gotten tired of looking at it yet."

"It's great," the husband said. "It's awesome."

And it's theirs.

Tuesday's dedication ceremony, hosted by Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, tied an imaginary bow on the five-month re-roofing project in collaboration with the Patterson Foundation's Legacy of Valor campaign.

"It's tremendous," said Pete Bokach, one of the project's 23 Habitat volunteers, admiring their handiwork. "Everyone who worked on it felt they were doing something for a well-deserving couple -- and especially a veteran."

Twenty-six years in uniform, Driscoll suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and an auto-immune disease that affects his back, lungs and eyes.

Making matters worse, when part of the family's roof caved in last year, the cash-strapped couple paid for some stopgap work but couldn't get assistance to have 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 Habitat, which has rehabbed homes for veterans, the elderly and disabled and built more than 100 homes for new families since 1994.

Subsequently, the Driscolls became the beneficiaries of a cooperative effort between Habitat and the Patterson Foundation's Legacy of Valor campaign to recognize the veterans community.

The foundation funded the $10,000 roofing project and, in addition, Habitat was one of 12 Legacy of Valor partners chosen for matching funds for its Habitat Veteran Build program.

"We reached out and helped someone who couldn't help himself, somebody who had a sense of disbelief somebody cared about their needs," said Diana Shoemaker, Habitat executive director.

Linda Gould related to Scott Driscoll's situation. The Legacy of Valor coordinator is a veteran of 29 years herself.

"It's very difficult for a veteran to ask for help," Gould said. "For me, it's wonderful to see a community come together with private foundations to help veterans, whether it's finding employment or repairing their homes. Veterans can step forward and know help is here. That's important to me."

Volunteer workers poured more than 1,100 man hours into the project, saving an estimated $20,000 worth of labor, said Dick Amesbury, incoming Habitat board chairman.

"It's a little bit of payback for a man like Scott," he said. "That's a good feeling."

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

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