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posted: 9/8/2012 9:48 AM

Home Depot volunteers to improve Lisle VFW

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Troops of volunteers will descend upon the Ross Bishop VFW Post 5696 on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The Lisle VFW received a $12,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation's Celebration of Service to build a deck/outdoor classroom to benefit its veterans.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, led the foundation to create its national day of service to channel the day's activities to positive outcomes.

A large banner, hung recently on the VFW fence, offers the community a hint that big plans are under way. The sign reads, "Team Depot extreme makeover 9-11."

The Team Depot volunteers from the Home Depot store in Downers Grove, 2000 Butterfield Road, as well as other Home Depot stores in the district, will team up with community and VFW volunteers to complete the project in a single day.

In 2012, the foundation will do approximately 1,000 projects across the country to benefit veterans, said Catherine Woodling, Home Depot Foundation communications specialist. The Lisle project is part of the corporation's charitable mission.

"Since 2002, the Home Depot Foundation has invested more than $300 million in local communities to build and renovate homes for deserving families; transform local parks and playgrounds; and repair community facilities that benefit veterans," said Woodling.

"The program successfully brings together volunteerism, do-it-yourself expertise, product donations and monetary grants as a way to support the communities where our associates live and work."

Home Depot Foundation research shows that many veterans face severe housing needs because they sustained a disability in combat, have been hard hit by the economy or cannot find affordable housing. For details, go to homedepotfoundation.org.

The Lisle VFW post, named for a hometown soldier killed in action during World War II, will use the added space for meetings and gatherings and will allow its use by groups in the community.

"As a veteran's organization, we've seen many things evolve over the years and we are delighted to have Home Depot go out of its way to make a difference," said post commander Army Reserve Col. Brett Nila.

With a good visible location at the corner of Route 53 and Lisle Place, Nila estimates 25 to 30 veterans use the VFW canteen on a daily basis, and the organization is attracting new members.

"The VFW post serves to connect veterans," Nila said. "This is a place to talk to people in the same language that even transcends generations.

"We have many shared experiences that people in the military have," Nila said. "If you say something in a certain way, you strike the chord that you both know. Older vets help younger ones understand, deal with and sort things out.

"By the same token, older veterans learn new things from the younger veterans and how to handle things. Both sides benefit; there is something energizing about that opportunity."

The original plans proposed by Home Depot and the VFW post included an ADA accessible ramp, but the height of the entrance and the number of turns needed exceeds village codes.

"At this time, we are looking for additional funds to add a lift to make the project ADA accessible," Nila said. "We will build the deck with a designated area for a lift, but it may take time to secure that part."

The VFW building in Lisle was originally a private home and at another time served as a funeral parlor, Nila said. The best recall places the building's origin from the 1890s.

Glen Ellyn contractor David Firchau signed on to help the post with specifications and requirements for the new 16-by-24-foot deck.

Preliminary work included removing a brown wood covering over the entrance, clearing the area and pouring the cement foundation supports for deck posts. The deck will include railings and eventually a pergola.

In addition to the deck, plans call for a retraining wall to go along the front of the building and deck. Landscaping and painting a wood fence that runs along the back of the property will complete the project.

The bulk of the work will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, and continues until the job is complete or nightfall, whichever comes first. Local vendors who plan to donate food for the many volunteers on-site include Starbucks, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike's Subs, Papa John's Pizza and Yerbabuena Mexican Restaurant.

The Home Depot Foundation is the nonprofit arm of The Home Depot mega stores and is dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and their families through grants, product donations and volunteer labor.

In 2011, the Team Depot volunteers worked on the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton. The group replaced rotten porch stairs and railings and gave everything a fresh coat of paint.

The Wheaton not-for-profit shelter offers transitional housing and independent living skills to U. S. veterans so each may return to productive lives.

If the Lisle VFW project also is chosen by the Home Depot Foundation's Aprons in Action initiative, the public will have a chance to vote on Facebook. The Wheaton project won an additional $25,000 Home Depot gift card on the Facebook vote.

"Each month, four nonprofits will be featured and the one that wins the most votes from Facebook users will be awarded a $25,000 gift card to The Home Depot," said organizer Amy Typpi, electrical sales associate at Home Depot.

Volunteers are at the heart of all Home Depot Foundation projects. Anyone wishing to volunteer their time and energy to the Sept. 11 project should call the post at (630) 271-9806 to place their name on the list. All volunteers will wear the signature Home Depot orange T-shirts.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle twice monthly in Neighbor.

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