LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Our military members and their families give so much for all of us and it’s not always easy to know how to repay that debt. WAVE 3 News has teamed up with Active Heroes and companies all over the community to make an impact.
It’s called Operation Room Retreat and the name says it all: doing something to give our military families a refuge and a place to retreat in the time when they’re not serving our country.
It’s like the prize patrol but the families didn’t sign up for sweepstakes, but rather, a life of service.
The Goodlins, the Austins and the Manharts all had areas of their homes that could use some sprucing up. UAW, Home Depot, Winner Furniture and others were ready to help.
Brian Austin and Megan Leitsinger have been through some ups and downs.
“Especially with PTSD,” Austin Leitsinger said. “It kind of shuts you down.”
Their new living room is now a bright spot.
“It’s been so long since it’s felt like anything good has happened to us, other than being together, and now we have a real house,” said Leitsinger.
Todd Dunn from the UAW is a military veteran himself.
“Knowing that you’ve got community behind you when you come home, while you’re gone and even when you come home, it’s just another testament of what it means to serve your country and then have your country behind you,” he said.
The Manharts are feeling that love outdoors with their daughters and granddaughter in their brand new backyard.
“(It was) very dull, unrelaxing, uninviting, uneventful for the family to sit out here and enjoy and now it’s just beautiful,” Dorie Manhart said.
The makeover included a new deck, landscaping, fire pit, play set and new memories. They’re making up for times that Christopher missed while in the Navy.
“Ten years, ten months, ten days,” he said.
“I get a little sappy with this stuff,” Joe Autry with Home Depot said. “Obviously thank you for your service and everything that you do and I just can’t put into words how much we appreciate it.”
The Austin family’s surprise — plans for the basement redo — had to happen earlier than expected because dad Neil was shipped out to Texas for training causing him to miss the big reveal of his new man cave.
“I bet he’s going to love it,” said JD Worley of Winner Furniture. “I wish we could be here when he walks down here for the first time.”
His daughter Ava brought her daddy doll to check it out until the whole family can be together again. “We’re all over the moon,” said Amanda, Neil’s wife. “We can’t believe it. It’s just a huge help, a blessing, it’s just amazing.”
All of our winners were nominated by WAVE 3 viewers who wrote letters in May explaining why the families were deserving of a room makeover. We were originally looking for just one winner but after seeing those great families, it was hard to narrow it down.
Companies involved included Al Good Foods, The Home Depot, Ford UAW, Zaxby’s and UPS.