On November 15th, Budget Blinds® Corporate employees participated in a Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) Volunteer Day in Murrieta, CA. It was an exciting day as we helped put the finishing touches on the landscaping for the home intended for veteran Cpl Carlos Garcia and his family.

Now, one month later on December 16th, Budget Blinds was present for the Key Ceremony when the keys were given to Cpl Garcia as he and his family received their new “forever home” from HFOT.

Homes for Our Troops is a privately-funded, nonprofit organization that builds specially adapted, mortgage-free homes nationwide for the most severely injured Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. These homes help to restore some of the freedom and independence of veterans who lost limbs and received other debilitating injuries, enabling them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives in safety and comfort. . Budget Blinds, in collaboration with our long-standing manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions, is committed to providing faux wood blinds from our Signature Series® product line for 120 homes over the next three years, part of the overall corporate goal of donating one million dollars in product and cash contributions to HFOT.

The Key Ceremony: A Day of Delights

Todd Jackson McHale

A warm handshake with Major General (USA, retired) Timothy P. McHale, President/CEO of Homes for Our Troops draws smiles from fellow veterans, including Cpl Garcia’s new neighbor, Cpl Jon Schumacher (far left), as well as Budget Blinds’ staff members

All afternoon people were arriving in anticipation of the 6:00 p.m. Key Ceremony which includes speeches, raising the American flag, the ribbon cutting and key presentation to Cpl Garcia. Touring the home, meet-and-greets, photos and video takes filled the time leading up to the Key Ceremony.

Additionally, Budget Blinds’ partnership with HFOT was formalized with a signing ceremony prior to the home presentation. Todd Jackson, co-founder of Budget Blinds, did the honors. “At Budget Blinds we share a strong commitment to supporting veterans who have served our country. Many of our founders have personal connections to the U.S. Armed Forces as do a number of our franchisees across the country. It is our hope that the synergies between Budget Blinds and Homes for Our Troops will continue to honor returning veterans for years to come.”

At 6:00 p.m. sharp, Cpl Garcia and his family were escorted up the driveway to their new home as supporters and community members lined the street waving American flags and cheering. The newest family member, Andrew, born November 25th, was just in time to move into the new home with his family!

The crowd gathered in the HFOT tent for speeches by HFOT executives, Todd Jackson, Cpl Garcia and his wife, Jackie. Pure joy marked the occasion for everyone present.

“We at Homes for Our Troops do not believe in giving a home to severely injured veterans in charity. We believe it is a moral obligation of our society. There is no way we can repay you for your service to our country, but we hope this home can be a down payment.” — Major General (USA, retired) Timothy P. McHale, President/CEO of Homes for Our Troops

On behalf of the Budget Blinds family, Todd Jackson presented a $200 Visa gift card to the Garcias and reiterated the Budget Blinds’ commitment to supporting veterans: “The Budget Blinds organization is extremely honored and inspired by the Homes for Our Troops mission to help make a difference in the lives of Veterans. We hope Marine Corporal Garcia and his family will enjoy the beauty, convenience and energy efficiency of these new window coverings for many years to come.”

Rich Symbolism
HFOT erects a flagpole at each home site, flying the HFOT flag until the home is presented to the veteran, at which time it’s exchanged for an American flag. A yellow ribbon guards the entrance until the ribbon is cut and the home is officially awarded. Each action has significance for HFOT. “Our veterans raise the American flag and cut the yellow ribbon outside their new home. These are gestures of patriotism and service symbolizing our veterans letting go of the barriers that previously prohibited them from living independently. Freedom in the way of a fully-accessible home has arrived at last for our Hero.”

Timothy McHale Cpl Garcia

Jackie Garcia and Major General (USA, retired) Timothy P. McHale assist as Cpl Garcia and daughter Isabel cut the yellow ribbon, opening up access to their new home

After the flag raising and ribbon cutting, a tour of the home followed with Budget Blinds’ easy-care faux wood blinds as just one of the over 155 special adaptations that go into each of the homes.  These adaptations include wider halls and doorways, automatic door openers, roll-under sinks, stove tops and counters, pull-down shelving, backup house generator, sliding windows and roll-in shower with digital temperature control. Living in an HFOT specially adapted home aids injured Veterans in their recovery, allowing them to have complete wheelchair accessibility to the entire home, without fear of falls and other injuries that can occur in a conventional home setting.

Looking Forward, Looking Back
Cpl Carlos Garcia was on his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 when he was severely injured in an IED blast that resulted in the loss of both his legs. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer as he was evacuated by helicopter, he was placed in a medically induced sleep for ease of transport to Germany, the first stop on the way to final destination of Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego where he continues to receive treatment and therapies. Cpl Garcia says that time with his family is very important to him, and now with two small children, this new specially adapted home will enable him to participate more fully in home life. “I will be more independent and feel more comfortable on a daily basis because all areas of my home will be accessible to me. “Rolling around freely without bumping into anything, it’s amazing. When my daughter is crying, I just spin around and get right to her.”

Jackie shares, “It’s incredible to think that there are people out there [who] understand the struggles we have to deal with. We’re so grateful we’ve been given this opportunity. It’s heartwarming to know there are people out there who truly, truly care.” You can hear their whole story by clicking here.

To date, HFOT has placed 175 families into homes, with 52 current projects underway. Visit their website to learn more about how you can get involved in honoring returning veterans in your area.

If you would like to update your own home with easy-care faux wood blinds and other decorative window coverings, Budget Blinds offers an extensive line of window treatments including shutters, shades, blinds and drapes that offer benefits beyond beauty: energy efficiency, motorization, eco-friendly and child-friendly options. Call 866-590-6341 for a FREE, in-home consultation or go online to www.budgetblinds.com to find the Style Consultant near you.