About 1,000 people were in Merrick, L.I., to celebrate with Marine Corporal Kevin Vaughan, the recipient of a mortgage-free house as his new home. Vaughan had been the recipient of many medals and awards including the Purple Heart for a serious wound that he received in combat in Afghanistan.
The donation of the new home was made possible by an organization that is known as Building Homes for Heroes.
One group of donors to the fund were the members of the Brooklyn Campus Long Island University (LIU) Newman Club, who conducted a plant sale to help returning servicemen and women. The club had been donating to Wounded Warriors, an organization that helps returning servicemen in many different ways.
When it was discovered that Vaughan, a lifelong resident of Long Island, returned from the battlefield and would need special help, the students decided to help the organization that would directly help him.
Two years ago, there was a groundbreaking ceremony and the chaplain from the LIU Brooklyn Campus, Father Charles Keeney, a friend of the Vaughan family, was invited. Father Keeney was again invited to the grand celebration of the new home, and he was asked to bless the specially designed home. With the prayers from the Book of Blessings and with some holy water, Father Keeney blessed the home and the hero.
Local dignitaries were asked to speak as well as some of the principal people in the volunteer organization. Words of thanks for those who helped in big and small ways were conveyed as well as words of appreciation for the service and sacrifice Vaughan and so many other servicemen have made.
Vaughan, in turn, thanked everyone who helped to make this great day possible. He then received the keys to his new home, a ribbon was cut and many people took the opportunity to tour the home.
Father Keeney said he thought about the Gospel story when Jesus pointed out that many people gave huge donations from their surplus and the poor widow gave two small coins from what she needed to live. Companies and organizations were thanked and recognized during the event for donations of as much as a million dollars to Building Homes for Heroes. The donation of LIU’s Newman Club would be more in line with the widow’s contribution.
“This Veteran’s Day is a great time to thank all the men and women who have served in the armed forces,” said Father Keeney. “One way to thank them is to donate to one of the organizations which provide them with so many resources and benefits as well as to turn to our faith traditions and say an extra prayer for them.”