Local veteran gets keys to new home
By Jessica De Nova/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore.-Habitat for Humanity unveiled its first Habitat for Heroes Home Saturday, for the family of local veteran, Thomas Gury.
The non-profit developed Habitat for Heroes just last year, "to serve those who have served in our community," said Executive Director, Denise James.
James said she hoped the program would also lead to veterans uniting to help each other build and raise fund for their homes. "All those things did happen, is that veterans were able to help veterans in many different ways," said James.
The non-profit reached out to the Veteran Department of Affairs in White City, where it received a list of eight families recommended by Iraq and Afghanistan Program Manager, Chris Patron.
Identities, need for housing and incomes to cover the 30-year, interest-free mortgage, were verified.
After all the paperwork, interviews and house visits, a lucky family was chosen.
The first Oregon veteran to be selected for the program was Thomas Gury.
He is a North Medford High graduate.
Gury enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation and was stationed in Hawaii until 2009.
After returning from Hawaii, Gury enlisted in the Army National Guard in Medford.
In late 2003, the veteran volunteered for his first deployment to Iraq and was there from 2004-2005.
He had an 11-month break after that, but did not rest the whole time. Gury was in Louisiana helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
After his break, Gury went overseas to Afghanistan for a year, where he served as both base and convoy security.
He was then stationed at Fort Lewis to train other units from the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marine Corps on gunnery skills and convoy security.
Gury was deployed to Iraq a second time, where he tore a ligament in his knee and was sent home for rehabilitation.
He continued to serve periodically until last September, when he decided it was time to focus on his family. "The boots are hanging up right now and I'm focusing on my family now," said Gury.
"Just knowing that my family is going to have a stable house and a stable place to live, thank you to Habitat for Humanity," Gury added.
Their driveway was filled by supporters and volunteers, waiting to see the Gurys receive their keys to their new home.
During the ceremony for the unveiling of the new home, representatives from Habitat for Humanity, Wells Fargo, Erickson Air-Crane, and the Veteran Department of Affairs spoke.
The home was blessed by Father Feliz Vistal and Grocery Outlet presented the family with a $200 gift certificate, and informed the Gurys, the grocery store had stocked some of its cabinets and freezer.
Tom thanked all the volunteers, organizations and businesses that came together to build his family's home.
The homes built by the non-profit come pretty standard.
Tom's wife, Michell Gury, gave News 10 an exclusive tour.
"The home owners are able to make some of those selections," said Michelle.
She was talking about the blue and purple trim she chose for the outside, the cabinet stain, carpet color and countertops.
A closet was changed to a bathroom to meet their needs.
"Having one bathroom in the house would've been very challenging for seven people," said Michelle.
"All of the appliances like the fridge stove and dishwasher were donated by Whirpool," she added.
Home Depot helped Tom with his overseas injury. "The tub was a special request for some of Tom's needs that we had talked about in the very beginning," said Michelle.
The home improvement store also upgraded their master bathroom tile.
Tom encouraged other vets to seek help if needed. "Come out, go down to Habitat [...] if you need a place to live, or you need home improvement," he said.
James hopes the exposure from the first Habitat for Heroes home, brings in other local vets in need.
The non-profit plans to select one vet each year for the program.
It has already chosen, veteran and single father of two, Tyrone Polk, for its next home-building project, early this spring.