RAYMOND — Disabled U.S. Army veteran Mike Beauregard wasn’t sure he’d ever get the handicapped-accessible addition he needs on his Raymond house, but teams of volunteers have come together to get the job done.
Beauregard, 54, struggled to find a contractor who would commit to the project that will help him as he battles multiple sclerosis, but in response to a story published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Jan. 5, 2017, he was eventually hooked up with Southeast New Hampshire Habitat for Humanity based in Portsmouth.
The organization has taken on the project, which involves the construction of a 720-square-foot addition with a first-floor handicapped-accessible master bedroom, bathroom, a hallway, and other improvements, including a remodeled kitchen.
The work is being funded largely through a nearly $90,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ specially adapted housing program.
Beauregard, who often uses his electric wheelchair, said he’s grateful for Southeast New Hampshire Habitat for Humanity and the different groups of volunteers who have been lending a hand on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The work began in June when a new septic system was installed. Building construction soon followed and was scheduled to wrap up by the end of December, but will likely take a little longer.
“It’s been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s been a great experience meeting all these people who are just taking their time out of their busy schedules to come out and volunteer to help somebody they don’t know. It’s really heartwarming,” he said.
His wife, Karen, said she cried when the workers showed up to begin work on the septic system.
“I couldn’t believe they were there. This is going to allow him to live on the first floor of his home and stay here. We won’t have to move,” she said.
The volunteers have shown up rain or shine. Beauregard recalled one day when it was cold with pouring rain.
“They were soaking wet, but there was no grumbling. They were just here,” he said.
Ten volunteers from the veteran-based nonprofit organization Team Rubicon spent their Veterans Day on Monday installing siding and working on other parts of the addition.
Team Rubicon has partnered with Southeast New Hampshire Habitat for Humanity on similar veterans’ projects in the past.
“It allows veterans to come back out of service and serve the communities because oftentimes they come back into the communities and they’re disconnected. This allows them to put their skills to work for the community, but also gives them a sense of purpose,” said Douglas Gregory, construction manager for Southeast New Hampshire Habitat for Humanity, who oversees the Beauregard project and guides the many volunteers.
Eli Rivera of Keene, who is Team Rubicon’s state administrator for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, served in the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Reserve and estimated that about 70% of the organization’s volunteers are veterans.
“As a vet, you feel that sense of purpose helping another vet, especially on Veterans Day. It just brings us back and reminds of why we’re here,” he said.
Army veteran John Cauley of Shirley, Mass., has been volunteering with Team Rubicon for three years, but the Raymond project was the first one he’s worked on during Veterans Day.
“It feels good to give back. ... Service to others is what it’s all about,” he said.
Kerry Falwell Mens, a licensed massage therapist from Keep in Touch! with K in Kingston, also stopped by Monday to provide free healing massages for the veteran volunteers.
She gives about 15 free massages to veterans each month through the Hands for Heroes organization.
“I always feel like I get more than I give. I feel like they’ve given me so much. They’ve given me my freedom,” she said.