Tiny Home, BIG Dream Project
A PART OF THE PAY-IT-FORWARD VETERAN HOUSING PROGRAM
WE BELIEVE THAT A SAFE, SECURE HOME IS THE FOUNDATION OF HEALTH, WELLBEING, AND AN OVERALL INCREASED QUALITY OF LIFE.
WE'RE PROVIDING MUCH MORE THAN JUST A SHELTER FOR A VETERAN FACING EXTREME HOUSING INSTABILITY, WE'RE BUILDING A COMFORTABLE, BEAUTIFUL, SOLID, WELL INSULATED TINY HOME.
EVERYONE DESERVES A PLACE TO CALL HOME, ESPECIALLY OUR VETERANS.
A disabled war veteran, Michael Lane (affectionately nicknamed ‘the Grizz’ by his friends) lives a quiet, simple life in a rural town outside of Spokane, WA. Like too many of our veterans, Michael has spent much of his post-service life without the comfort of a secure home, and sixteen years ago found himself struggling through a difficult time and in need of a new place to live. Without a steady income, he didn’t have many options, so when a friend offered him a place to stay on a plot of undeveloped land in Eastern Washington, he gratefully jumped at the opportunity. He sold much of what he owned, purchased a used RV and basic living supplies and set out to make the best of it, leaving his life in Seattle behind. Having always been a man with little material interests, Mike was no stranger to simple and unconventional living situations. He embraced this new lifestyle and benefited greatly from the quiet solitude, spending much of his time delving into the therapeutic practice of meditation.
Fast-forward to today, and things have taken an alarming turn for the worse. What was once a manageable living situation has become dire and desperate by most standards. Mike is now in his seventies, and much of his RV and living supplies are worn out and broken. He lives without access to running water or plumbing, and his mini refrigerator and stove are broken and irreparable, making daily food storage and preparation challenging. His walls have dry rot and he has to deal with mold issues. The winters in Spokane are very cold and with little insulation, Mike has to cover all the windows and wrap the entire trailer with large tarps to stay warm and dry.
Spokane has an average of 45 - 50 inches of snow per season, which requires him to climb ladders to shovel snow off his roof and storage tents multiple times during each snowfall so they do not leak or cave in-- a task that is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous as he gets older.
We knew Mike would never ask for our help, and we knew his minimal pension would not be able to provide him with the funds to pay for necessary and urgent repairs needed to renovate his RV, so we decided to step in and offer our support.
Born to a military family, Michael’s life began when he drew his first breath in a military hospital during the 2nd World War, just six months after the Normandy invasion of France. His father was a Purple Heart recipient and one of only 336 survivors from the battleship U.S.S Arizona that was sunk during the Japanese ambush on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was considered an honored war hero (a claim he never accepted, saying that the heroes are the soldiers that went down with the ship). His father retired after 30 years of service with the Navy as Master Chief and his final resting place is now with his shipmates within the U.S.S. Arizona.
It’s no surprise that Michael enlisted with the U.S Army, Airborne soon after he graduated from High School in 1963, though he will not speak much about his experience in the Vietnam War.
When asked how a new Tiny Home would change his life, Michael emotionally responded, “if I have my home situation set, if I can actually have a Tiny Home on wheels that would allow me the flexibility to be closer to my friends, that is warm in the winter and has running water and an actual bathroom, then I can relax, I can do more than just survive and worry about my future as I face the humbling reality of getting older and all the new physical limitations that come with it. It would be such a relief to know that I can live these later years with some of the peace and comforts that I have not known for a very long time. Instead of just surviving, I can spend my time helping others that may need help [too].”
It was difficult for Mike to accept our offer to build him a tiny home, as is the case for many vets who are accustomed to toughing things out individually and feel that there are others more deserving of help for various reasons. Mike didn’t apply for a pension until 8 years ago when a neighbor insisted that he wait no longer. He took pride in being able to live minimally and felt that other vets dealing with external disabilities were more deserving of help over his mental disability. While Mike has learned to live with very little and has overcome substantial hardship, it is clear that his current living situation is no longer safe and he is in immediate need of a new place to live. At Operation Tiny Home we believe that everyone can use the support of their community at some point in his or her life, and we have stepped in to offer our help.
Together we are the change!
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