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Habitat hosts Hearts for Heroes

Event raises more than $200,000 to build homes for U.S. military veterans

Posted: March 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Darryl Paulk, of the SCV Child & Family Center, shops for silent auction items.

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The "Hearts for Heroes" Builder’s Ball was an emotional evening that honored veterans of the United States military and supporters of the Habitat for Heroes campaign.

Event Chairwoman Doreen Shine said the successful fundraiser, hosted by Habitat for Humanity, San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys and held at the Universal Sheraton in Universal City, raised more than $200,000 that will be used to build homes for veterans in the Santa Clarita Valley.

"How great is that Santa Clarita is the best place in the world to live?" Shine said.

Secretary of California Department of Veterans Affairs, Peter Gravett, Major General, retired, U.S. Army, said the Hearts for Heroes event was "very important" in efforts to assist veterans become first time home buyers.

"Most of our veterans don’t need any services, they are self-sufficient, but for those veterans that do need need help, housing, health care, education, employment, this is a way to give back to our national treasures, which are our veterans."

Honored at the event with the Hammer of Hope Award were Carl and Jeri Goldman, of Canyon Country and Mike Mizrahi who accepted the award for the Southern California Gas Company. Mizrahi is the SoCalGas regional public affairs manager.

Mizrahi and the Goldmans have taken the lead in promoting the SCV Habitat for Heroes program which includes construction of the 87-home Veteran’s Village and other services.

Four veterans, Renard Thomas, Jose Castillo, Joshua Towe, Manuel Montenegro and their families were featured at the event as they told their stories and what a home in the new Veterans’ Village will mean to each of them.

Towe said he and his family now lives with his wife’s parents in a 3-bedroom, 2-bath 1,200 sq. ft. home — "with seven people and two dogs."

"We love the idea if living in a community of veterans," he said. "A military community can become a very tight-night group. We would love to have neighbors that we can eventually call family."

Towe hoisted his young son Ethan Towe aloft at the podium as Ethan displayed a picture he drew of what he hopes his new home in the Veterans’ Village will look like.

An emotional Montenegro said he hopes to give each of his children a room of their own.

"As little as that might sound my kids deserve that and much more," he said. "What is a bonus is that the neighbors will have walked in the same shoes as I have."

Monten ended his speech with the note that "war is not for everybody. But for those of us who have lived it, we appreciate everything you have done for us."

For more information about the Habitat for Heroes Campaign visit www.humanityca.org.

mbuttelman@signalscv.com

661-287-5590

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