Eighty-three-year-old Alfonso Zapata survived the Korean War and four tours of duty in the Vietnam War, for which he received the Bronze Star with Valor. He was also tough enough to train Green Berets. Now confined to a wheelchair due to medical problems, in recent years Zapata’s beloved home of 60 years had become filled with enemies–narrow doorways, an inaccessible shower, stairways and dim lighting. Zapata and his wife Isabel had raised seven children in the home on 7th Street and they had no desire to leave, but the lack of accessibility was a serious problem and they couldn’t afford to make the modifications.
On November 11, Veterans Day, the Zapatas’ home was surrounded by workers attacking the barriers that threatened him and his wife. Clients of Meals on Wheels and More (MOWAM), case managers had referred the couple to their home repair program which removes physical barriers from the homes of low-income and disabled vets free of charge . The program is funded by the Texas Veterans Commission’s Housing for Texas Heroes program. The Home Depot Foundation matched that funding and often provides workers to make the needed repairs. The team from Home Depot is also painting the Zapata home and repairing the roof.
“It’s wonderful to be able to give back to people who have put their lives on the line,” said Charles Cloutman who heads up the MOWAM home repair program. Cloutman says many veterans have similar needs, but, unfortunately, the funding to make these repairs has run out.
The Zapata family is grateful for the repairs as they can’t imagine Alfonso and Isabel no longer living in their home. They’re looking forward to more good times there this holiday season. Click below to hear a message from the couple’s daughter.