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Boca Raton News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
11/12/2018 General
Hundreds of Volunteers Honored

Hundreds of Volunteers Honored, Remembered and Served Boca Raton’s  “Hometown” Military Veterans During Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County VETERANS BUILD 

Boca Residents and Companies Transformed Homes in City’s New Pines Neighborhood;  Keynote Given by Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Pollack, the POW Detained in Adjoining Cell to Senator John McCain

BOCA RATON, Fla. (November 11, 2018) -- Businesses and area residents joined Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County (HFHSPBC) this Friday to honor and serve resident military veterans in appreciation for their service in kick off to the City of Boca’s schedule of Veterans Day festivities. More than 200 registered volunteers from corporate teams from sponsoring companies participated in the HFHSPBC’s annual VETERANS BUILD presented by Boca Raton-headquartered Vertical Bridge to transform 10 homes within the City of Boca Raton’s New Pines neighborhood. 

Between two home revitalization shifts made possible by a generous gift from Vertical Bridge and grant funding from Home Depot/Team Depot, the volunteer appreciation lunch program featured a U.S. Color Guard ceremony, welcome by City of Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer and keynote speech by Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Pollack who was shot down over Vietnam on his 78th combat mission and captured a few weeks before then Navy pilot John McCain. Their relationship began “through the wall” that separated their adjoining cells. Pollack currently serves on the Boca Raton Airport Authority and is board president of Boca-based Vets Helping Heroes that was started by another POW to provide service dogs to active duty military and retired vets.

Following Pollack’s story-sharing, HFHSPBC asked each veteran to come on stage to introduce themselves along with their branch of service and rank as Pollack gave each comrade a warm handshake and presented them a coveted, commemorative challenge coin. During the program Vertical Bridge Co-founder and Executive Vice President Bernard Borghei presented  a check to HFHSPBC for $25,000.

Prior to individual volunteers and corporate teams including Vertical Bridge, Team Apple and Home Depot/Team Depot headed out to refresh the 10 homes, the early morning program included a welcome by City of Boca Raton Council Member Monica Mayotte and inspirational remarks by Michael Armstrong who served as an Air Intelligence Officer with a Navy Fighter Squadron for four years (1970-1973). His service included 17 months engaged in combat operations in Vietnam, followed by 26 in the Naval reserves. He retired in 2000 as commander of the Naval Reserve Intelligence Program of Florida.

Two of the hometown veterans joined in the revitalization of their own homes:

John Brown, a Philadelphia native, joined the military aboard the USS Independence at the age of 19  serving as an electrician during the Vietnam War. Upon his relocation to South Florida John with his wife Iola, the couple noticed that there was a lot to be done in the Pearl City community in Boca Raton and were determined to give back. In 2001, Mr. Brown began to build houses with HFHSPBC and working “on the front line” for 17 years alongside those battling financial instability in Pearl City that was historically challenged with poverty and crime.

Serving as vice president of the Developing Interracial Social Change (DISC) organization, he was able to build a bridge where different groups of people could unify and fight social barriers together.  Iola worked alongside John to build long-lasting homes and made it her mission to provide the children with educational tools by helping establish what is today known as: The Boys and Girls Club adjacent Sand Pine Park, where the VETERANS BUILD welcomes the volunteers. 

Andrew Capellini is a US Air Force veteran who was stationed at Hurlbert Field Military Base in Okaloosa County, Florida.  Hurlburt Field has a long and distinctive history; it is home to the Air Force Special Operations Command and the 1st Special Operations Wing. Andrew and Jamey have a blended family of four children, daughters, Jenna (13), Leila (12), Aurora (8) and son Noah (1).  The couple works hard to create a civilian family life; Andrew works at Crain Atlantis Engineering in Deerfield Beach and Jamey as a nurse’s aide.  The couple is raising their children by instilling the value of extending help to others. When not working, Andrew spends his time doing home improvement projects on their starter home, but most of all he loves being a father and spending time doing fun things with his children including the faith programs at their church, Calvary Chapel Boca Raton.

HFHSPBC, headquartered at 181 S.E. Fifth Ave., Delray Beach, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that brings people together to build homes, community and hope in the cities of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, Florida. The nonprofit depends upon volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money, materials, services and property to fulfill its mission. For more information on volunteering, corporate builds, fundraising events and sponsorship opportunities , visit volunteer@hfhboca.org or contact Kari Oeltjen, HFHSPBC Vice President and Chief Development Officer at koeltjen@hfhboca.org or (561) 819-6070, ext. 214.