This Vietnam War veteran's Bridgeport home just got a makeover courtesy of a CT nonprofit
Vietnam War veteran Leonard Hunter and his wife Mary Hunter have lived in their Bridgeport home for 42 years, raising four children, gardening and caring for their grandkids.
After decades of service to his community, both as a veteran and a former crossing guard for a local public school near his house, Hunter received the home remodel of lifetime.
The nonprofit Rebuilding Together, located in Hartford, provided the Hunters with a new kitchen, a cleared out backyard and freshly planted flower beds along the front and side of the home.
“We’ve been living here for years and years and [this is] the first time anything beautiful has happened to us like this,” Mary Hunter said.
The renovation, which took place days after Memorial Day, was funded with about $17,500 from defense corporation Lockheed Martin. Roughly 20 Lockheed Martin employees volunteered to conduct the renovation.
Hunter said he’s excited for all aspects of the renovation, but is most looking forward to the improved yard.
“During the summer I love to cook out in my backyard. My wife says, ‘Honey, you cooking outside right?’ and I said, ‘Yeah I guess I am because you not cooking inside.’ So yes, I’m looking forward to that, you know, and just enjoying life,” Hunter said.
Hunter was particularly glad the organization targets former military members to receive home upgrades.
He served in the Army, and fought in Vietnam during 1968 and 1969, alongside four brothers. All five young men made it home.
“I’m just thankful that someone come along that wants to help out a veteran. And veterans, sometimes, are not appreciated. When we came home we were treated very bad. We were called baby killers and spit on and that’s not the way to accept someone that’s making the country safe for you to live in,” Hunter said.
Rebuilding Together Hartford works specifically on fixing up the homes of local veterans about twice a year.
With more than 100 chapters nationally, at least 150 veteran-owned homes are refurbished each year, according to Rebuilding Together Hartford Executive Director Don Chapman.
“Now they’re able to sit in the backyard and enjoy it, or garden in front. The neighbors are all fixing up their homes and now they’re fixing theirs too,” Chapman said.
The Hunters were chosen due to Leonard Hunter’s veteran status, their contributions to the Bridgeport community and income level.
“We try to source someone that’s known in the city, someone who’s been a long-time city resident, someone who’s given to the city, and he (Hunter) fits the bill perfect,” Chapman said. “He worked basically in public service, is retired and active in the town, bowling leagues and horseshoes.”
The project also presented an opportunity for the Lockheed Martin volunteers to connect, as some participants have never met in person, working with each other solely through virtual means.