A swarm of orange Home Depot T-shirts and their owners buzzed around the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles the morning of Friday, June 6, measuring, sawing and hammering.
Between 25-30 volunteers from The Home Depot in Sequim volunteered to build a five-sided, glass-enclosed gazebo for reflection in a therapeutic garden as part of the respite inn for families of fallen soldiers.
The project, conceived by Betsy Reed Schultz, began in May 2013 to remodel a century-old Tudor inn into a place where loved ones of the fallen could meet and share with others their grief. Schultz knows that grief all too well — her son Capt. Joseph Schultz, died in Afghanistan on May 29, 2011, and it is in his honor the former B&B is being transformed into an ADA-compliant facility for three military families to stay at a time.
Charlie Smith of Lindberg and Smith is the architect for the project, which includes two additions and an elevator. Bill Feeley is the contractor. Colin Clark, assistant manager of the Sequim store, directed the work crew.
Schultz formed the Captain Joseph House Foundation and it has received thousands of dollars, including $12,000 from The Home Depot’s Doing More for Vets initiative. Schultz and the foundation board anticipate opening the Captain Joseph House before Memorial Day next year. Local companies have donated building materials or discounted them significantly for the project. Angeles Millwork and Hartnagel Building Center raised $10,000 through their “Fund a Stud” project. The foundation’s auction raised $70,000.
Also on Friday, Alex Anderson of Angeles Concrete was screeding and floating a ramp to the elevator. After Team Depot finished the gazebo, they planned to help with interior wall demolition; others helped load donated supplies to go into storage and another group pulled nails to recycle lumber.
When finished, the house will have downstairs a common area, a library with a fireplace, a dining room with French doors to a new deck and sunroom, an expanded kitchen and a craft room for children. On the second floor, there will be three suites with full bathrooms, the elevator egress, a balcony and deck off two rooms; the third floor in the attic will be administrative space and for volunteers.
Plans are to refinish all or most of the wainscoting and door and window trim.
Joe Borden, a foundation board member, said, “We’ve taken out the old electrical and most of the cast-iron plumbing. So far we’ve had 2,500 volunteer hours and more than 200 volunteers to get it into the state it’s in now.”
Gina Hanna, manager of the Sequim store, looked around at her colleagues and said, “It’s so amazing and heartwarming that all these people came together.”
On hand was one Team Depot member for whom the project meant more. Cashier Carl Honore is a veteran who served from 1976-1978 in the immediate post-Vietnam era.
“I was Air Force active and in the Reserves and I’m proud to be here to help these families,” Honore said. “I’m proud to be among these people taking on this project and helping to build the gazebo. Home Depot is a proud employer of veterans of all stripes and I’m proud as a veteran to be working for them.”
Borden added, “We’ve been getting donations on large and small things and I don’t know if another community would have supported us like this.”