Dozens of volunteers restore 97-year-old veteran widow's home in 5th Ward

HOUSTON – On Saturday morning dozens of volunteers from Rebuilding Together Houston and ExxonMobil’s Veteran Advocacy and Support Team (VAST) came together in restoring a home for the widow of a military veteran who also just turned 97 years old.

The 5th Ward home was built more than 85 years ago by her husband, Victor Brown Sr. who served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. Veterans and children came out to help with the repairs on a rainy, cold morning. The repairs included replacing rotten siding, sealing the home to prevent water leaks and repainting the exterior. 

“What better gift than to have these volunteers out here making sure her house is safe and sound so she can stay in it for all the rest of her days?” said Christine Holland, CEO and executive director of Rebuilding Together Houston.

Thedora Brown reflected on how special it is to see her home being repaired.

“Looking at my home, my husband’s work and how much time he put into this work it just makes me feel good to see it being restored and looking good again,” Brown said.
Brown’s home was chosen to be restored after they conducted a search of veteran families in need of maintenance and improvements to their homes. Rebuilding Together Houston and ExxonMobil’s VAST wanted to give her a nicer but especially safer home to continue living in. 

“We want Mrs. Brown to feel like people care for her and that we have her best interest in mind, and we want her to have a nice, safe place to live and a place she can be proud of, as proud of as she was when her husband built it probably 70 years ago or so,” said Matt Waters, a volunteer from ExxonMobil.

Chris Hart, a veteran and the president of ExxonMobil’s VAST team, said the organization requests to work on veterans’ homes every year as a way of giving back to those who served. 

“It’s great to be able to help her, and she’s just been so delightful, and that’s one of the things I really find with the homeowners, they’re just so thankful and so appreciative to get some help, and it makes you feel real good,” Hart said.

Hart brought seven of his children to help with the restoration.

Thedora Brown said her husband loved to serve and had a knack for the things he learned in the military, including his craftiness with woodwork. Her son, Victor Brown Jr., considers his late father a hero.

“My father was not a carpenter by trade. He just had a God-given talent to do these types of things,” Victor Brown Jr. said. “He’s looking down now and he’s smiling, because he can see his work wasn’t in vain.”

Thedora Brown expressed her gratitude to the organization and volunteers for restoring her home. 

“To the volunteers, I’m just so happy to see nationalities, different colors working together, all for one good purpose, and that’s love,” Thedora Brown said.
The home is to be completed by the end of October.

“It’s going to be wonderful. It’ll just be so wonderful, something I can call my own and see my own handiwork and my husband’s handiwork,” Thedora Brown said.

Rebuilding Together Houston is looking to rebuild more than 1,600 homes both impacted and not impacted by Hurricane Harvey, within the next three years.