Military Veteran with Special Needs Children Gifted Thousands in Home Repairs

Brandi Secrist

A military veteran from Michigan with special needs children was gifted with thousands of dollars in home repairs from volunteers on Friday.

Brandi Secrist, who served between 2006 and 2010 as a military police officer, told M Live that a local restaurant — The Win Tavern 33 — gave her family presents for the holiday season last year, leading organizers from The Home Depot to find out about her family and her story.

Every year, The Home Depot Foundation provides veterans a number of home repairs free of charge, organizing and supplying the funding, tools, and manpower needed to complete the project.

“This year, our mission was really to celebrate the spirit of our veterans by surprising them with life-changing moments,” said Jana Vugteveen, Grandville Home Depot store manager.

Secrist said the repairs are “life changing,” as her four-year-old son has high-functioning autism and her three-year-old son is blind and has cerebral palsy, making it necessary for him to use a wheelchair. Secrist also has two older daughters Krishtian, 11, and Ella, 9.

“I feel like we’ve moved on, but we’re still struggling,” Secrist said. “We can’t really go anywhere on vacation because of the needs of the special needs kids, it’s just too much. So we try to create our home to be that oasis where we can camp out in our backyard and things like that.”

The volunteers painted a wheelchair ramp, did some landscaping, and performed heavy yard cleanup — which included removing a dead tree from the front yard and constructing raised garden beds, birdhouses, hammock tree stations, a shed, a patio, a clothesline, and a fire pit.

The volunteers — who were volunteers from The Home Depot, community members, and local veterans — also installed a front storm door, a living room sliding barn door, and a flagpole in the front yard.

Vugteveen said the home repairs cost more than $10,000 and included a snowblower and a grill as part of the package.

“It makes it feel like home,” Secrist said. “I have to grow vegetables for my youngest son because he can’t eat food normally. … The [hammock] swings and stuff that they’re donating, I’ll be able to sit with him in that swing and get that vestibular therapy that he needs, so he can get out and enjoy his day, too, and his environment.”

The Home Depot Foundation announced back in June that it would pledge $2.1 million to Volunteers for America to provide housing and services to veterans.

As recently as November 1, Home Depot’s associate-led “Team Depot” built a tiny house for an Army veteran and retired first responder in Marysville, Washington, the Arlington Times reported.


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