Cameron, N.C. — Christmas came early this year for a Camp Lejeune Marine and his family who are the recipients of a new home built by volunteers wanting to honor disabled veterans for their sacrifice and service to their country.
Marine Lance Cpl. Richie Chavis, 21, lost both of his legs below his knees in November 2009, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on a six-month deployment in Afghanistan.
On Monday, he, his wife, Laken, and their two young children – Isaiah, 6, and Madeline, 6-months – were given the keys to their new home – designed especially for Chavis, who uses a wheelchair to get around – in the Lexington Plantation subdivision, just off N.C. Highway 87 in Cameron.
"It means a lot that somebody took the time and took the care to actually sit there and plan that everything needs to be wide enough for the wheelchair to get through," Chavis said. "It means a lot."
Local contractors volunteered the materials and the labor to build the home – a special project of Operation: Coming Home.
Founded in 2007, the effort is collaboration between a local veterans group, called Triangle Real Estate & Construction Veterans, the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, Royal Oaks Building Group and others.
"This one is 100 percent donated by our subcontractors and vendors," said Rich Van Cassel, of Royal Oaks. "They make it happen."
Since 2008, the nonprofit has built three other homes for wounded veterans in the area – another in Cameron and two others in Fuquay-Varina.
Last year, it built a home for Carlos Evans, a Marine who lost his hand and both of his legs when he stepped on a bomb.