Leonard Sarbin had to pause a few times during his brief speech. He kept getting choked up.
The Air Force veteran stood with his family under a tent in his freshly cleared front yard, holding a case containing a U.S. Flag that once flew over Congress, and surveyed the more than 50 volunteers assembled in front of him.
The volunteers spent one day and $10,000 doing what Sarbin could no longer do – care for his home and property.
The septic tank the Sarbins had put in when they moved into the home 38 years ago had broken during installation. They didn’t find out it was damaged until a few years ago, but they weren’t able to do anything about it.
None of the sinks in the house had worked in “quite a while,” Sarbin said. They used the bathtub instead.
Much of the home’s five acres had become overgrown. The place needed a lot of work.
Volunteers from Wells Fargo, House of Heroes, American Legion Post 71 and other community members cleared the land, cut limbs from trees, fixed the home’s plumbing, replaced the septic tank, repainted the house, cleaned out the shed and installed a fence around the swimming pool. And that’s just a few of the maintenance jobs performed.
Materials for a new roof have been ordered and paid for, and volunteers will return another day to install it.
The project was part of Wells Fargo’s second annual Community Service Super Saturday. Nearly 600 employees across Georgia and in some areas of South Carolina and Alabama volunteered their time to help in their communities.
In the Augusta area, 10 volunteers manned a booth at the Augusta Pride festival and 20 helped Habitat for Humanity build a new home on Walton Way.
“We wanted to do something veteran-related,” said Wells Fargo district manager Scott Carpenter. “Fort Gordon’s an important part of the community, we’re an important part of the community, and we want to make sure those are coming together.”
The project was spearheaded by House of Heroes, a nonprofit based in Columbus, Ga., dedicated to honoring veterans and their spouses through home repairs. Repairs are free for all military and public safety veterans and their families and are performed by volunteers. The only requirement for help is that the recipient be honorably discharged and own their home. Income is not a consideration. Repairs are also done for veteran’s spouses and widows, said volunteer coordinator Sam Shehane.
Sarbin was chosen to receive help after a fellow church member recommended him. He said he and his wife were do-it-yourselfers, but for the last eight years he hasn’t been able to do much because of seven degenerated discs in his back.
“I feel very uncomfortable with all this help going on,” he said. “(But) I’m really completely grateful.”
Sarbin was presented a flag that had flown over Congress and a flagpole was installed on a tree in his front yard during a ceremony thanking him for his service. Sarbin told the volunteers that he had prayed God would heal his back so that he could do the work around his house that needed to be done.
“I just want to say that instead of doing what I expected him to do, he sent all of you angels,” Sarbin said.