Support for the troops runs high in the lumber and building material industry. That’s because there’s a relatively high percentage of builders and lumberyard workers with military backgrounds -- at least from an anecdotal standpoint.
Another reason is people like Ed Quinn Jr.
Quinn is chairman of the board of Gaithersburg, Md.-based TW Perry. One of the founders of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Quinn recently took over the chairmanship of the non-profit organization that seeks to make life better for wounded veterans and their caregivers.
How does it make life better? Any way it possibly can, said Quinn.
“We originally started just by asking the kids what they need,” he said. “And they needed rides and rental cars that their caregivers could get around in, lodging for people who would come to visit them. We stepped into the gap and provided everything we could to make everything a little better.”
Those early days date back to 2005, when Quinn and a group of Maryland businessmen got together to fund a dinner for patients of the National Naval Medical Center. “We were just local business guys who gave a damn, who cared about these kids,” Quinn said.
The idea became a movement, and the movement became a full-blown charity, a 501(c) (3) organization with a nine-person staff dedicated to helping those who sacrificed for their country.
One of the staff members is Jessica Allen, herself a caregiver and wife of a wounded veteran. As director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Family Caregiver Program, Allen looks for ways to help the families, and part of that involves navigating military paperwork, and working with other charities to match the needs of the veterans with the ability of the charity to provide help.
“What I do is take some of the suck out of this,” said Allen. “I joke around, but it’s the truth. We find the families in need and honestly and truthfully help them find a blessing out of this. That’s my job.“
For Allen, the life-changing phone call came Jan. 22, 2010, at 8 a.m. in the morning. That’s when shelearned her husband was injured in Afghanistan. “My whole world now is taking care of wounded warriors,” she said.
One of the organizations with which Yellow Ribbon Fund has struck a partnership is Homes for Heroes Foundation, which provides housing for wounded veterans and others who have sacrificed for the country. Currently, a home for the Allen family is being constructed in Tennessee.
In addition to material aid from TW Perry, Homes for Heroes receives help from McCoy’s Building Supply in the Southwest and Heart Lumber in Houston, among others.
The Yellow Ribbon Fund seeks help and participation from anywhere in the LBM industry, according to Quinn. “The Yellow Ribbon Fund stepped into the gap and has provided everything we could to make everything a little better,” he said. “It’s really taken off. We’d like for the LBM industry to help. It’s just a matter of awareness and then whatever appetite they have to help, we can make it happen.”