Opinion Columns & Blogs

Neighbors helping vets

Recently I learned of a special program in Columbus that reaches out to help our neighbors in need. NeighborWorks is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing for some of our senior citizens who lack the resources to do that for themselves. They need help.

The Columbus Cottage program is a special program administered by NeighborWorks. Sometimes our neighbors are living in a home where no one should live because of its poor condition and their inability to maintain it. The Columbus Cottage program is helping a local veteran who needs a new home.

Staff Sergeant Joseph Hubanks retired from the Army in 1973 after serving in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. After he retired from the Army, he worked as a mechanic in Columbus and has lived in his home for 30 years. Unfortunately, as he got older Staff Sergeant Hubanks just did not have the ability to maintain the house. He’s now 83 and still works hard to keep the yard looking nice, but the house needs a lot of help. NeighborWorks has now come to the rescue.

Thanks to private donations and support from the Columbus Consolidated Government, NeighborWorks has arranged for Staff Sergeant Hubanks to have a new home. His old house will be demolished and a new cottage built in its place. Staff Sergeant Hubanks and his two dogs, Pepper and Vick, will return to their new home on the same lot where they have lived once the new cottage is completed. The trio will be able to stay in this new house for the rest of Staff Sergeant Hubanks’ life, and he won’t owe any money for this new home. Once he does not need this cottage, NeighborWorks will then be able to work with the city of Columbus to allow another deserving citizen to move in.

This remarkable program is taking care of a veteran who lacks the means to take care of himself. Like so many other veterans, he was simply proud to have served. That was enough. Now our community will help him when he really needs it.

This program, of course, does not help veterans alone. Nonetheless, this time the Columbus Cottage program is helping a veteran who risked his life in two wars. He protected all of us, so now we get to protect him a bit. I can think of no better way to repay the debt that we owe Staff Sergeant Hubanks than to help him have a decent home in which to live.

NeighborWorks would not be successful without the leadership of people like Cathy Williams, the president of NeighborWorks. Thanks to her determination and drive, a veteran who was in dire need is being helped in a way he never expected. All of the staff, volunteers, and donors within the NeighborWorks organization deserve our thanks and our admiration. Our senior citizens need our help. Our veterans who are senior citizens especially deserve our help.

The Columbus Cottage program is the focus of the NeighborWorks annual fundraising campaign. So when you hear that, you might remember that a veteran received a decent place to live thanks to the efforts of this group.

All of us need to help our elders whenever we can. If you don’t understand why, then I recommend that you sit down and talk to an older person sometime, especially if he or she happens to be a veteran.

You could read a history book, of course, but you could also learn that history from someone who lived it. Without the sacrifices and willingness to serve of people like Staff Sergeant Hubanks, the rest of us might not be here right now.

John M. House, an independent correspondent and retired Army colonel living in Midland, can be reached at housearmylife@aol.com.