ENID, Okla. — Volunteers are needed to help with a community project to build a new home for a wounded veteran.
The project, a collaboration of Community Development Support Association's Welcome Home Project and World Mission Builders, needs volunteers and donations for various phases of the construction project, which will begin Nov. 15 and run through Nov. 21.
According to a 2015 study by the non-profit Housing Assistance Council, more than 42,000 Oklahoma veterans "live in homes with one or more major problems of quality, crowding, or cost," and housing affordability is the "greatest housing problem among veterans."
Welcome Home Project was started as a collaboration with CDSA in late 2017, in hopes of addressing those housing needs for wounded veterans, and broke ground on a veteran's home in November 2018.
That project stalled, said CDSA housing coordinator Mike Biggers, until CDSA took over the project recently and enlisted the help of World Mission Builders.
World Mission Builders is a faith-based nonprofit that has built more than 300 churches and ministry-related buildings since 1975 in 89 countries.
Together, CDSA and World Mission Builders, along with community support, aim to finish the project started last year — a new home for the family of retired Sgt. LeRoy Watkins, an Enid native and disabled veteran.
Watkins enlisted in the 45th Fires Brigade of the Oklahoma National Guard at the age of 22, and went on to make three deployments to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
During his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Watkins was injured repeatedly by IED explosions, suffered six traumatic brain injuries and a severe back injury. He was medically retired from the Army in 2013.
Biggers said the planned 2,000-square-foot, all handicap-accessible home, at 2917 Donna Kaye, will provide Watkins, his wife and their two children a home that meets the needs of his disabilities.
And, as a retired lieutenant colonel with service in the Army, National Guard and Reserves, Biggers said he's looking forward to building a home for Watkins, who he's known since he was a boy.
Joe Wilson, with World Mission Builders (WMB), said his group was eager to take on the project.
While most WMB projects focus on ministry-related buildings, Wilson said "serving a wounded warrior is very meaningful for us."
"We have a soft spot in our heart for this type of work, and helping a wounded veteran is a good thing," Wilson said.
Wilson said most WMB volunteers are retired. It’s a way, he said, to keep contributing to Christian missions.
“It’s about more than retiring and then sitting down with the grandkids for 20 years and then dying,” Joe said. “We’re supposed to keep serving.”
David Fink, site foreman for a June WMB project in Enid, will be returning to Enid for the Watkins project.
In a June interview with the News & Eagle, Fink said World Mission Builders gave him an opportunity to continue using his skills as a contractor after retirement.
“God has been good to me, and we just want to share his goodness with others,” Fink said. “God has blessed us in this country with health, wealth, time and talent, and God expects more out of us than just taking care of ourselves.”
Biggers and Wilson are hoping more members of the community will help fund, support and man the project.
"We need young, strong people," especially for Nov. 15 and 16, Wilson said. He said those days will focus on raising the walls, in a community barn-raising atmosphere, and no special construction skills are needed by volunteers those days.
During Nov. 18-21, volunteers with experience in setting trusses, windows, soffit, facia and trim will be needed, he said.
Volunteers and supporters also are needed to provide meals and housing for volunteers coming in from out of town, Wilson said.
Biggers said construction of the home is not yet fully funded, and CDSA is seeking funds and donations of materials, all of which are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or donate to the project, contact Biggers at CDSA, (580) 242-6131, or send donations to CDSA Welcome Home Project, 114 S. Independence, Enid, OK 73701.