Preservation effort aids veterans, their families in Thousand Oaks
Rachel McGrath 6:07 PM, Feb 1, 2015
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Renovations and repairs on homes belonging to veterans or their spouses have been completed at Ranch Mobile Home Park in Thousand Oaks.
Park residents joined with local city officials and those who had donated time and money to do the work at a special meeting Saturday morning to celebrate the end of the project and tour the repaired homes.
Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County took the lead on the project and Executive Director Steve Dwyer promised residents that more help is on the way.
“We’re not done yet,” he said. “When I was first contacted about the needs here at the mobile home park, there were 32 families on the list. We’ve supported about 50 percent of those, and it is our goal to work with the city, to work with our community partners, to see that we can accomplish the goal of serving all the needs here at the park.”
Dwyer also praised the residents themselves, saying he’s never seen such a community where neighbors help neighbors. He also gave special praise to Jim Wolf and Kathy Goodspeed, two longtime ranch residents who really advocated for their neighbors and lobbied to get them help.
“These folks truly, truly exemplify what it means to be a good neighbor,” he said, as homeowners applauded and cheered Wolf and Goodspeed.
In partnership with the Home Depot Foundation, during the past six weeks or so, Habit for Humanity has overseen repairs and the installation of new appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, air conditioning units and refrigerators at 15 homes.
The project was made possible by the time given by volunteers and as a result of donations of cash and materials from various businesses, including Orchard Supply Hardware, Home Depot in Camarillo, Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village and HVAC contractor Tassio Temperature Control.
Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña, a supporter of Ranch Mobile Home Park residents, and Mayor Al Adam attended the event and took a tour of the homes that had been improved by the project.
Adam thanked everyone who had made it possible.
“You’ve made sure that the veterans here will not be forgotten, and I think that’s really important,” he said.
“Government can’t do it all. Sometimes citizens have to step up, and that’s what’s happened here to make sure that our veterans are appreciated and respected in the city of Thousand Oaks,” he said.
The repairs carried out on coaches and lots at the park for low-income seniors on Los Feliz Drive in central Thousand Oaks included restoring and improving landscaping, fixing a wooden porch in danger of collapsing, strengthening handrails on steps up to homes and paving uneven walkways.
One of those who received new appliances was Karen Kent, 73, whose husband Harold Kent had served in the Korean War with the U.S. Navy. She moved to Ranch Mobile Home Park three years ago after she lost her house.
“They said we’re giving you a new hot water heater, and it was something unbelievable and so generous,” she said. “It was very unexpected. I didn’t expect to receive anything and I’ll put it this way: I’m grateful for anything I get and I’m not going to be unhappy if I don’t get it.
“You have to go through certain trials and tribulations before you realize that what you have is most precious,” she said.
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Photos by CARMEN SMYTH/SPECIAL TO THE STAR