Habitat For Humanity Of South Palm Beach County Hosts VETERANS BUILD

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Staff report

Help honor veterans during Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County’s VETERANS BUILD on Nov. 9.

Part of the city of Boca Raton’s Veterans Day festivities, join more than 200 volunteers working on transforming 10 homes in the New Pines neighborhood.

The build is sponsored by Boca Raton-headquartered Vertical Bridge and grant funding from the Home Depot Foundation.

The day will kick off with welcome remarks by Mayor Scott Singer, U.S. Color Guard ceremony and introductions of veteran homeowners will start the day at 8 a.m. prior to all volunteers joining crews from VETERANS BUILD.

Between two revitalization shifts, the volunteer appreciation lunch program will feature keynote speaker Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Pollack, the POW detained for years during the Vietnam War in an adjoining cell to Senator John McCain.

Pollack, who was shot down over Vietnam on his 78th combat mission in July 1967 and captured a few weeks before then Navy pilot John McCain, will share about their friendship during the Veteran Build lunch program. Their relationship began in 1968 when they met “through the wall” that separated their adjoining cells as POWs.

Pollack currently serves on the Boca Raton Airport Authority, is board president of Boca-based Vets Helping Heroes that was started by another POW to provide service dogs to active duty military and retired vets.

One of the Boca Raton veterans participating is John Brown, a Philadelphia native who at the age of 19 in 1968 joined the military aboard the USS Independence where he served as an electrician during the Vietnam War.

Upon their relocation to South Florida John and his wife, Iola noticed that there was a lot to be done for the Pearl City community in Boca Raton and were determined to give back. In 2001, Brown began to build houses with Habitat for Humanity SPBC.

Serving as Vice-President of (DISC) Developing Interracial Social Change Organization he was able to build a bridge where different groups of people could unify and fight social barriers together.

Iola worked alongside John to build long-lasting homes and made it her mission to provide the children with educational tools by helping establish what is today known as: The Boys and Girls Club at Sand Pine Park, where the VETERANS BUILD welcomes the volunteers.

Advance registration is required to participate. The volunteer builders will be working under the guidance of Habitat construction professionals. For safety reasons, volunteers to spruce up, paint, landscape, must:

  • be age18 years or older
  • email volunteer@hfhboca.org and reference VETERANS BUILD
  • wear closed toe shoes, long pants; Veterans Build t-shirts will be provided
  • arrive by 8 a.m. at Sand Pine Park, 300 Newcastle St.