2017-06-23 / Neighbors

Local VFW gets helping hand with renovations

Vets humbled by community support
By Melissa Simon


SPRUCING UP—Above, Chris Grasso, site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity, and Marc Lawrence discuss plans for refurbishing the building that houses Simi Valley’s VFW Post 10049. At right, Notre Dame High School student Gillian Roy, 16, of Simi Valley applies a fresh coat of paint to the eaves. SPRUCING UP—Above, Chris Grasso, site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity, and Marc Lawrence discuss plans for refurbishing the building that houses Simi Valley’s VFW Post 10049. At right, Notre Dame High School student Gillian Roy, 16, of Simi Valley applies a fresh coat of paint to the eaves. After decades of wear and tear, the rundown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 in the southern end of Simi Valley is getting a major facelift.

The local VFW chapter, which has served veterans in the community for more than 40 years, has long been in need of fixes that include a new roof, a kitchen renovation and upgrades to its canteen eatery, said Wayne Wright, commander of the group.

But the $50,000 price tag made the projects unfeasible, until the VFW received an offer in March from international nonprofit Habitat for Humanity to help with the improvements.

“I was absolutely elated when Habitat said they wanted to help out with our renovations, which quite frankly are above our means as a post. It was like Santa Claus had arrived early and brought the best gift ever,” Wright said.


Photos by DIANNE AVERY/Acorn Newspapers Photos by DIANNE AVERY/Acorn Newspapers “It’s humbling, to say the least, to be receiving all this assistance. I just don’t have the words,” the retired Army warrant officer continued. “I know our predecessors who have passed on would be very proud to see the community assist the VFW.”

Steve Dwyer, executive director of Habitat’s Ventura County branch, said he learned of the work that needed to be done while reading an article in the Simi Valley Acorn in February about the VFW’s partnership with a Cal Lutheran University graduate class to develop a sus

“I just thought this would be a terrific project for us to take on because, while I’d never been to Post 10049 myself, we love to support our veterans, and this struck me as the perfect way to do that,” Dwyer said. It’s also a great community initiative, he added.

“This is the first big project we’ve done in Simi for at least seven years, although we have done some smaller home repairs in the past two or three years.” Dwyer said.

“It’s truly enjoyable to work with people who are grateful for what you’re doing and who have an important mission in the community. I’m excited that we’re able to help a really great group of folks.”

Habitat began reaching out to its partners, including Home Depot, which donated $18,200 in materials for the renovations, said Chris Grasso, site supervisor for Habitat.

At least 15 other local and county businesses have also pitched in to help, including

Hansen’s Plumbing & Mechanical, Aladdin Air

Conditioning &

Heating Inc., Taft

Electric Company, Anderson

Rubbish Disposal, JW Floor, and BMC building supply. Behr donated the paint for the project.

Renovations began June 6, and the crew hopes to be finished before

July 4, although the recent heat wave may set them back a week.

In the end, Grasso said, the VFW will have a new roof, electrical and plumbing upgrades, a renovated kitchen and canteen, and drought-tolerant landscaping among its improvements.

“We’ve almost gone down to the studs, so it’ll be almost like a whole new remodel when we’re done,” he said. “But we’re still looking for a professional roofer or drywaller who might want to help us out with their skills.”

Renovating the VFW is the least Grasso could do for the post’s members, who have sacrificed so much, he said.

“The post is a place for them to relax and talk about their past, but the building was falling apart and they just didn’t have the money to do anything.

“I have a lot of friends and family who have served to protect this country and our freedoms, so this project is just a small way for me to give back to them and say thank you.”

Return to top