Naperville Responds for Veterans—New leader of veteran-support organization wants to serve more
Naperville Responds for Veterans (NRFV) assists local veterans with home improvement projects, repairs and renovations. Serving veterans within a twenty-mile radius of Naperville, the organization focuses on helping low- to moderate-income veterans and their families with tasks such as converting bathtubs to walk-in showers, repairing gutters, retrofitting bathrooms to be wheelchair-accessible, fixing leaky roofs and adding wheelchair ramps, particularly those who might not have the ability to have such costly work done on their homes.
“This organization helps veterans who have laid their lives on the line to be able to enjoy the simple daily comforts so many others take for granted,” says NRFV President Dan Jurjovec of Lakewest Custom Homes. “My first major project, we built a new wheelchair-accessible bathroom for a disabled Korean War vet whose wife had been taking care of him, but had developed health issues of her own. In two weeks, he could use his shower again for the first time in almost a year.”
All veterans have to do is complete an online application for work to be done on their homes. As soon as the candidate is properly vetted, members of the construction committee visit the veteran’s home and start scheduling the project. The work is done by local licensed and insured builders and contractors who donate their time, materials and labor. “We are fortunate to have great relationships with local contractors who donate the labor and materials,” said Jurjovec. “Many are on or have served on the NRFV Board of Directors.”
To further offset costs, NRFV hosts several fundraisers throughout the year, including a Strength & Honor breakfast in April and Cheers for Our Veterans event every November around Veterans Day. “This past November we held it at White Eagle Golf Club,” said Jack Persin, a Navy veteran who served as NRFV’s immediate past president. “Approximately 350 guests enjoyed dinner, auctions, and our guest speaker Steven Cochran from WGN Radio. Corporate sponsorship is a big part of the Cheers and Strength & Honor events.”
Persin, along with then Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel, Sharon Gorrell and Brent Lewis, started NRFV in 2010 after working with volunteers to assist with rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Naperville volunteers raised more than $2 million, which went toward reconstructing twenty-one homes in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
The group then set its sights on helping soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but quickly widened its scope to include all veterans. “We’ve assisted veterans in Naperville, Plainfield, LaGrange, Wheaton, Hanover Park, Lombard, Bellwood, Maywood, Bridgeview, Palos Hills, Yorkville, Orland Park, Elgin, Joliet, Country Club Hills and Montgomery,” Persin notes.
One of the organization’s largest projects was for people who had taken in homeless vets in unincorporated Burr Ridge. Creating a complete bathroom addition, volunteers bumped out the powder room and added a wheelchair-accessible shower, as well as two wheelchair-friendly vanities. “The homeowners had hosted many veterans,” Persin said. “Not only did they feed them and do their laundry, but they also drove them to and from Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital.”
And although there are always ongoing projects, typically from two to five at a time, Jurjovec would like to see the organization reach even more veterans.
“Believe it or not, our limited factor is finding veterans in need of our assistance,” he said. “We make an effort to get in front of social workers and VFW groups. Veterans don’t tend to raise their hands and ask for help. The sacrifices these brave men and women have made for our country are far greater than the amount of time and money required to help with their home improvement projects.”
If you are a veteran who could benefit from assistance with home repairs, renovations and construction, visit nrfov.org/apply to complete an online or printed application.
For more info, call 331.684.7899 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.