On November 5, more than 200 volunteers, community leaders, celebrities and others helped a local veteran and his family rehabilitate their home and celebrate the launch of a new program aimed at improving living conditions and providing suitable housing for veterans.
The event was part of the public launch of SCV Habitat for Heroes. The program is an effort by Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys (SF/SCV) in partnership with local community and business leaders, nonprofit organizations, and others.
SCV Habitat for Heroes is focused on ensuring veterans are supported through home modifications, education, and supportive services that will help prevent them from common house-related problems that civilian veterans face. The program will also establish the Santa Clarita Valley as a leading community for civilian veterans and their families.
The November 5 event highlighted the first phase of the program, called “A Brush With Kindness,” it included speakers and special guests, including representatives from Habitat for Humanity International’s Veterans’ Initiative, local legislators, including Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, Mayor Marsha McLean, and representatives from leading veteran organizations.
Other speakers included actors Kevin McKidd, who plays Dr. Owen Hunt on Grey’s Anatomy, an Iraq War veteran who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Mark Valley, who plays Oliver Richard on Harry’s Law and is a veteran himself. A graduate from West Point majoring in Mathematics, Valley served in Operation Desert Storm as an Engineer officer with The Berlin Brigade.
Following the presentations, scores of volunteers from sponsoring organizations, including Southern California Gas Co., KHTS-AM 1220, and Home Depot, were armed with hammers, paint brushes, shovels and other tools and equipment to perform home modification and critical repairs at the Murphy’s home.
Home Depot and the local Santa Clarita store on Newhall Ranch Road sponsored the veteran family’s home by providing supplies as well as new appliances. Local store employees and volunteers installed a new sink and faucet, safety handles in a new tub enclosure and put in all of the new appliances.
About the Murphy’s
The Murphy’s are the first family to be selected for the SCV Habitat for Heroes program. Joshua Murphy served in Iraq for 14 months. As an Army soldier, he worked security on what is now known as Joint Base Balad in Iraq. He and his team performed perimeter security, monitored entry patrol points and was under constant mortars and indirect fire.
As Murphy was stationed in the middle of farmland, insurgents sometimes used children with explosives in backpacks to crowd the gate or used them as a shield so soldiers wouldn’t shoot. Such images still haunt the former army specialist, giving him such intense flashbacks that he’ll sometimes blackout.
During his time in Iraq, he was also struck by a mortar while on duty in the guard tower. His injuries left him no longer capable of carrying his flak vest and ruck sack.
Murphy has been officially rated with back issues and PTSD.
Today, he still has difficulty bending over in the shower long enough to wash his legs and feet. The PTSD has left him with panic attacks and blackouts. Due to his physical ailments, he is unable to perform simple repairs to his family’s home.
SCV Habitat for Heroes is chaired by Carl Goldman and Jeri Seratti-Goldman, owners of KHTS AM 1220, and is sponsored by Southern California Gas Co. in partnership with KHTS AM-1220. Board members include a cross section of leadership in Santa Clarita. (To see a complete list of advisory board members, visit www.habitatscv.org).
SCV Habitat for Heroes’ three-phase program includes:
- Critical Home Repair/A Brush With Kindness — Sponsored by Southern California Gas Co., this program brings together donated materials, volunteers, and resources to help veterans who need repairs or modifications on their existing homes.
- Neighborhood Revitalization — Working with partners and the City of Santa Clarita, this phase will focus on renovating foreclosed properties in redevelopment areas selected by the city for veteran families to purchase. Veterans will work alongside volunteers and builders to rehab their home as well as take advantage of financial and other educational workshops. Entire Neighborhoods will be transformed through additional Brush With Kindness efforts.
- Veteran “Enriched” Neighborhood — In this phase, the goal is to build a veteran-specific community in the Santa Clarita Valley that includes a number of new homes, an urban garden, playground and educational services. I will offer life skills, training and support to veterans and their families to become self-sufficient. The Enriched Neighborhood model brings social and educational services right into a neighborhood.
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