House of Heroes is going national.
The Columbus-based nonprofit organization, which uses volunteers to repair the homes of military and public safety veterans, is expanding to Dallas, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Orlando, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.
Employees of Char-Broil, also based in Columbus, will lead House of Heroes projects and will work to establish chapters in those cities while peddling grills during mobile tours in May and June.
“We’ve been affiliated with House of Heroes from the very beginning and we’ve seen firsthand the impact it has had on the lives of so many people,” said Michelle Zeller, Char-Broil vice president for marketing. “We want to help House of Heroes spread that work to other markets and establish chapters elsewhere.”
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Char-Broil will feed volunteers and host cook-offs in each market to raise money and awareness for House of Heroes.
“There are a lot of people who need help,” Zeller said. “House of Heroes should be in every city.”
Under the supervision of local contractors, House of Heroes Inc. performs free-of-charge home repairs -- including cleaning, painting, building access ramps, installing windows and doors and doing yardwork -- for veterans and their spouses who are disabled, living on a fixed income or facing other physical or financial challenges.
House of Heroes was the brainchild of former Columbus Councilor Wayne Anthony, who is still the organization’s president.
The first project was done on May 12, 2000, and sites have included Columbus, LaGrange, Savannah and Albany in Georgia, and Phenix City in Alabama.
Thursday, a group of about 20 Char-Broil employees, including Zeller, worked on the organization’s 417th home on Paris Drive in Columbus. It belongs to Mary Mathis, whose late husband, Master Sgt. James Mathis, served three tours in Vietnam.
Char-Broil workers have been involved with more than 90 projects.
“We’re painting every room and tinting some windows,” Zeller said.
Kelly Darr, executive assistant for House of Heroes, added that other improvements included air-conditioning work, the installation of a carbon monoxide detector and repairs to an access ramp.
Mathis was away during the work.
“She’s going to get a great surprise when she gets home,” said Darr, who explained that the organization has a waiting list of 400 homes and plans to repair 40 of them this year.