Laurie Bowen, Communications Director, Purple Heart Homes, Golden Corner Chapter

by Laurie Bowen, Communications Director, Purple Heart Homes, Golden Corner Chapter

Purple Heart Homes USA is a 501(c)3 public charity that was founded in 2008 by John Gallina and the late Dale Beatty, two combat wounded veterans. Purple Heart Homes is dedicated to providing housing solutions for service-connected disabled and aging veterans that are substantial in function, design, and quality fit to welcome home the fighting men and women of America. Headquartered in Statesville, NC, Purple Heart Homes USA established its first chapter in Upstate South Carolina in 2013 to better service local veterans. The Golden Corner Chapter serves veterans in Anderson, Pickens and Oconee counties, but we have traveled further when the need requires. Our mission includes providing veterans with free services such as building decks and ramps, widening doorways, renovating bathrooms with walk-in showers, installing grab bars and other home improvements that address safety and accessibility and provide veterans with peace of mind. As of May 2020, we have completed 85 projects and are hoping to reach our 100th veteran served by the end of this year.

Covid-19 has adversely impacted our ability to service local veterans. Many of our 100% volunteer workforce and the veterans we serve are aging and/or have underlying health concerns that make them vulnerable. As a result, we have suspended much of our operations that take us into veterans’ homes during what is typically our busiest time of year. When we are required to enter veterans’ homes, our volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing. We are also limiting our work on veterans’ homes to outdoor projects as much as possible. We are using this time to take new applications and perform project and budgetary planning so that we can resume work when conditions are more favorable. Of the 11 open projects, 5 are in various stages of completion. The remaining 6 will require volunteer teams to have prolonged access to veterans’ homes and are on hold.

Our volunteers have found additional ways to give back during the outbreak. We have raised funds and collected food for veterans who were affected by the tornado in Oconee County and others who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic. Our Chapter Communications Director, Laurie Bowen, has been sewing masks for veterans, corrections officers, first responders and healthcare workers free of charge. So far, she has donated over 500 masks and more are available. She plans to distribute additional masks to veterans in need through local VA organizations. We have received donations to our chapter from mask recipients, and many have donated to purchase more materials for additional masks. We have also donated N95 masks to volunteers working the Oconee County tornado recovery efforts.

COVID-19 has also limited the ability to raise the funds needed to purchase materials and services for our veteran projects. With 94% of all funding going directly to veteran projects, we rely on the generosity of individuals and local philanthropic organizations who host fundraising events or provide proceeds from thrift stores. The Coronavirus has forced the cancellation or postponement of fundraising events and temporarily shut down retail stores, impacting 2020 revenue. In this great time of need, many local charities are competing for limited resources to carry out our missions.

We are committed to insuring veterans get the help they need to make their homes safe and accessible one home at a time. For more information about volunteering in your area or to file an application, please visit our website.

We are accepting donations Amazon Smile, Facebook and Purple Heart Homes USA website. The Purple Heart Homes Golden Corner Chapter has achieved Guidestar’s Platinum level for transparency in 2019 and 2020.