Houston – What started as an investigation into a $4,000+ water bill draining an elderly Navy veteran has turned into a touching story of Houstonians stepping up to help the hero make his aging house a home again.
When members of The Restoration Team saw investigator Amy Davis’ Facebook post about 92-year-old Jessie Lara’s dilemma, they emailed to ask if they could help. They have been working for weeks in the sweltering heat for a man they didn’t even know.
Who is The Restoration Team?
The Restoration Team is a non-profit organization started by four Houston churches after Hurricane Harvey to help repair houses for homeowners who couldn’t do it themselves. Most of the homeowners are low income senior citizens whose homes are the only asset they have.
“We work with what we have to try and make it a safe place to live that prevents them from having to live in their car or couch or live in a very unsanitary situation,” explained Trevor Barnett, the executive director of The Restoration Team.
Volunteers come to Houston from all across the country to help. All of the supplies and materials the team uses are donated or purchased with donations. The Restoration Team receives no government funding.
When Barnett stopped by Lara’s home to find out how his team could help, he saw hazards and areas that needed improvement in every corner.
“Our goal here is just to make it safe and functional,” Barnett said. But as soon as he started one project, more issues were exposed like termite damage, rotted floors and leaking windows that let in water and heat.
“It was depressing, very depressing,” said John Work, the construction director for The Restoration Team.
Work explained all of the work his team would like to do, replacing all of the windows, most of the flooring, building a ramp to help Lara get in and out of his home easier with his walker and repairing walls inside the home.
Deacon Byrd is volunteering with a church out of Dallas. In between projects, he had the chance to visit with Lara.
“Mr. Lara really reminds me of my grandfather when he would tell me and my cousins about when he served in the Air Force back in the 50s,” Byrd said.
The work provides volunteers like Byrd priceless opportunities to give back. But the materials are not priceless. They’re expensive; and to do everything Lara needs, The Restoration Team needs help.
“We are a non-profit. We rely on donated materials,” said Work. “It’s a big house. It’s got about 20/ 22 windows on it, so if someone can help with that effort it would be much appreciated. Drop them off. We’ll pick them up. We’d be happy to accommodate you.”
How you can help
The Restoration Team needs about $10,000 to complete the needed repairs to Lara’s home. Your contribution, regardless of its size, will have a profound impact on Lara’s life. By donating, you can repay his sacrifice and honor his service by ensuring he has a home that reflects the gratitude we all owe him. Here are ways you can contribute:
1. Donating Online: You can securely donate using your credit card or Apple Pay at https://www.therestorationteam.org/donate
2. Mail a Check: Make your check payable to “The Restoration Team” and mail to our offices at 3911 Campbell Rd., Houston, TX 77080
Lara’s home is the 400th home The Restoration Team has repaired since they started in 2017. If you would like to donate your time to help, you can see the volunteer opportunities and how to get involved here.