Meadville Tribune

November 10, 2013

Army veteran gets some 'homefront help' from Home Depot

By Emerald Wright-Collie
Special to the Tribune

MEADVILLE — Karl Josefson is a veteran of Meadville who served in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1952. Josefson and his wife, Marcella, like to enjoy each other’s company by spending time outdoors. Their favorite place is was in their back yard.

“My husband and I would have outside lunches at the table outside,” Marcella said.

But due to a recent stroke suffered by Karl, the couple’s outside lunches have become less and less frequent. The stroke caused damage to the left side of his body from the neck down. He now uses a wheelchair, and his wife tends to his needs and does the housework.

Some of the maintenance requires outside involvement. This created a challenge for Marcella to complete all these tasks while also enjoying Karl’s company.

Enter the Home Depot Foundation, which has funds that support the rebuilding of certain projects that benefit people of need in local communities. The foundation has $80 million that goes specifically to these projects. In honor of Veterans Day, the foundation helped a veteran in Crawford County, which, in this case, was Karl.

The lead organizer from the Crawford County branch was Jesse Vanderhoof, who serves as the lumber supervisor/Team Depot captain. He helps guide and coordinate different projects throughout the county for the foundation, which has performed more than 1,200 projects nationwide.

The Josefsons needed their patio enclosed, but with Vanderhoof in place for coordination and the many dedicated staff and volunteers helping out, the Josefsons were surprised with a lot more.

“We planned to enclose the patio so Karl could be outside while his wife did chores,” Vanderhoof said.

The day-long renovation included a group of 18 associates of Home Depot who volunteered for the project. The project was done through a nonprofit with a sponsor from the Josefsons’ church, Our Lady Queen of The Americas in Conneaut Lake.

The project quickly went from a simple patio enclosure to an entire backyard renovation for the Josefsons.

“After talking with them we learned that they shared picnics together outside and we went from there,” Vanderhoof said.

The staff members and volunteers from Home Depot surprised the Josefsons with a 65-foot walkway, privacy fence, flag pole, garden and a platform deck. In addition to these renovations, the crew put in place a stone engraved with Karl’s years in the Army and performed a flag-raising ceremony.

“Karl was very happy,” Vanderhoof said. “You could see it in his face.”

When the Home Depot crew revealed the renovations at the Josefsons’ home, Marcella was in tears. The Josefsons are happy and appreciative of all the help provided by the foundation.

“The flag raising ceremony was very nice,” Karl said.

Marcella has been excited to use their new patio.

“I can now put (Karl) someplace nice without him getting sun poisoning or bitten by bugs,” she said.

The Home Depot Foundation looks forward to performing many more of these projects to help the community.

“It’s a fabulous thing to do,” Vanderhoof said.

Emerald Wright-Collie is a student at Allegheny College studying journalism, among other topics.