'Homes for Our Troops' Inspires Oregon CU

Program changes the lives of deserving heroes.

March 9, 2011

In 2008, Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves told attendees of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) that many of the nation’s severely disabled veterans return home to living spaces that don’t accommodate their disabilities.

He appealed to credit unions to help build specially adapted homes for these veterans.

Five Advantis Credit Union board members were in the audience that day and took that message home.

The Portland, Ore., credit union was one of the first to answer Gonsalves’ call, pledging $150,000 as the title sponsor for the first two homes to be built in Oregon by Homes for Our Troops.

Homes for Our Troops
Advantis CU pledged $150,000 to sponsor the first two homes to be built in Oregon. View a photo slide show.

“We were honored to lead the charge in Oregon,” says Advantis President/CEO Ron Barrick. “It was extraordinary and heartwarming to see an entire community come together to thank and honor these veterans, donating their time and their resources. Hundreds of companies and individuals contributed to these projects.”

The Advantis-sponsored homes were donated to Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Christian Bagge and Army Specialist Kevin Pannell. Bagge and Pannell each lost both of their legs as a result of bomb blasts while serving in Iraq.

Their specially adapted homes help restore their personal independence with features such as wheelchair-accessible hallways and cabinetry, roll-in showers, and automatic door openers.

“These homes change lives,” says Barrick, “and we strongly encourage other credit unions to help continue these important projects throughout the country. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing a very deserving hero receive the keys to his new home.”