Less than a month into his 2011 deployment with the U.S. Marines Corps, Marine Cpl. Ronald (CJ) Barnes stepped on an IED pressure plate or land mine, resulting in the loss of both legs and damage to his arms and face. Like many veterans, he faced the challenge of finding an accessible home for himself, his wife Katy and their young son. 

In stepped Home at Last, which World War II veteran William C. Criswell founded in 2007 as a way to build new, mortgage-free homes for disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Barnes is the fifth veteran to receive a home through the organization. 

The new $325,000 house is completely wheelchair accessible. Construction was funded entirely by donations and in-kind contributions of labor and materials. Seventeen members of the Central Florida Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) worked with about 60 companies from the surrounding Oakland, Fla., community to build the house. Overall, more than 200 volunteers were involved in the year-long process.

 
Winter Park Construction, Maitland, Fla., has managed the construction of all five Home at Last projects. Each year, the firm reaches out to its subcontractors for labor and materials donations; in turn, those subcontractors solicit donations from their vendors—creating a collective effort from the local construction industry. 

“We hope that being involved in the community initiates a ripple effect encouraging others in our community to also be engaged,” says Winter Park Construction President Jeff Forrest. “These veterans’ lives were at stake and their injuries were the price of our freedom. We are indebted to them and are humbled to be able to give them a home.” 

Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Orlando, Fla., provided a full-time onsite project superintendent for Barnes’ home, and donated onsite field management for three of Home at Last’s previous projects. 

“There is no doubt that participation in the Home at Last program builds the character of those who participate, and builds on the pride that all employees have in Hensel Phelps, what we do and who we do it for,” says Hensel Phelps Chief Estimator Bryan Butcher. “The culture of helping each other and supporting those who need help is an integral part of who we are.” 



In addition to Winter Park Construction and Hensel Phelps, the following ABC Members were involved in this project: CCK Construction Services, Inc.; Crane Rental Corporation; Ferguson Enterprises; HD Supply-Power Solutions; Macbeth Photography; Modern Plumbing; Prestige Concrete Products; Rexel Consolidated Electrical Supplies; Sherwin-Williams; Tri-City Electrical Contractors, Inc.; Tucker Paving, Inc.; United Rentals; Vulcan Materials Company-Central Florida; WhiteCap Construction Supply of Florida; and Winter Park Blue. 

Home at Last currently is working to identify next year’s recipient and continues to raise money to fund the project. 

For information on how to get involved, visit www.homeatlasthomes.org or www.facebook.com/HomesForWoundedWarriors.