Rafael Castro has been relying on space heaters since his boiler broke two year ago. It’s one of many home repairs put on the back burner since he returned from Iraq.
“It just seemed like I always had a bump in the road,” recalled Castro.
But he was able to get needed repairs to his home with the help of House of Heroes Connecticut, a non-profit organization that does free home repairs for veterans.
Castrol, who has three children including one with Down Syndrome, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and lost his job last spring. He took a entrepreneurship class through the University of Connecticut and bought his own business, a deli in Meriden. He’s poured all of his time and money into the project, further delaying the growing to-do list at home.
“Today’s a pretty big project for us,” said Bill May, chairman of House of Heroes.
The organization has made home repairs for 55 Connecticut veterans with financial or physical challenges, over the past four years. In addition to a new heating and cooling system, local contractors helped upgrade the plumbing and electrical work in Castro’s home, while other volunteers gave it a fresh coat of paint.
“It’s a blessing. Definitely a true blessing,” described Castro.
Many of the volunteers were veterans, like Andrew DiSilvestro, who’s served three tours in the last nine years, including one in Afghanistan.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be well off in regard to the things that other veterans have helped me with and so I felt the need to pass that on to another fellow veteran,” said DiSilvestro who volunteered on behalf of the National Association for the Remodeling Institute.
“What I miss most about the army is the camaraderie involved and the ability to help a brother next to me at all times,” added May, an Army veteran.
While the sacrifices he made overseas have followed him home, Castro says he’s seen the appreciation his community has for his service.
“Iraq’s been tough on the whole family,” said Castro. “There’s so many people who really do want to help the veterans, and I think it’s great. I think it really is great.”
Find more information on House of Heroes at www.hohct.org.