Brad Wiese can tell you how valuable a veterans group — and its building — is in Hooper.
The VFW post in Hooper offers camaraderie for veterans, but also raises funds for local projects and provides space for community events.
So the organization, Rebuilding Together, Platte Valley East, is joining forces with Sears to complete renovations and repairs to the Veterans of Foreign Wars David Hargen Post 10535 building in Hooper.
More than 25 volunteers from Rebuilding Together, the VFW post and Logan View High School will complete flooring replacement, debris removal and critical building repairs as part of the Sears Heroes at Home program.
The work is expected to take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and also Nov. 3 in the building at 108 N. Main St., in Hooper.
“It has been great fun listening to stories about their service over morning coffee where several members of the post meet every morning to talk about the community and upcoming post events,” said Wiese, executive director of Rebuilding Together, Platte Valley East.
Wiese applied for a grant from Sears, which every year makes funds available to Rebuilding Together affiliates to complete projects for veterans and veterans’ facilities.
“We’re always very thankful for their generosity in supporting folks, who have served and supported this country and its citizens,” Wiese said. “It’s an honor to be able to give back to those who’ve given to us.”
In his grant writing, Wiese said the Hooper post has community pancake and waffle feeds each year to raise funds for its own expenses and also offers the event to other local groups to help raise money.
Hooper’s VFW is the only post in Dodge County that offers coffee in the morning, five days a week, for anyone who’d like to join them and share in the camaraderie of the post.
The space also is used for many functions such as graduation receptions and the community Fourth of July breakfast.
It’s a staging area for the July Fourth parade and is used by the color guard for storage, practices and events.
The post also provides services on Memorial Day for surrounding cemeteries and decorates veterans’ graves. It donates funds to activities and projects such as Civil Air Patrol and the newly constructed concessions stands at the local ball fields.
Post members enjoy pancake feeds provided for residents of veterans’ homes in Norfolk and Bellevue.
Each year, veterans are brought from these retirement homes to the Hooper post and treated to a pancake feed, presentations and a chance to have fellowship with local veterans.
Wiese said the post is a great asset to Hooper and the surrounding community, but the facility needs repairs.
The most critical need is a restroom large enough for veterans from the retirement homes to enter in a wheelchair and for accompanying nurses to assist them on and off a chair-height stool.
Plans call for removal of current restroom walls and construction of an area that can meet the needs of people with disabilities and medical personnel.
“Chair-height stools, wheelchair accessible sinks and adequate grab bars must be installed to ensure the safety of the veterans,” Wiese said.
He also noted that as current members of the Hooper VFW age, the restroom is inadequate for their needs.
In addition, Wiese cites the need for carpeting in the dining hall to be removed and replaced with durable laminate flooring.
Most of the dining hall is carpeted, which makes it very difficult to move wheelchairs and walkers for older members. It’s also tough to keep clean, has many stains and poses a risk to respiratory health, he said.
Other items include a back door that is difficult to open and close and which should be replaced with a more usable unit to allow access to the alley and garbage area.
Holes in the front façade of the building need to be repaired. Current appliances are old and need to be replaced to help in the safety and efficiency for many community events the post provides.
Wiese also noted that that building’s second level was once an apartment that has fallen into disrepair. It’s filled with old equipment and furniture that needs to be disposed of, he said.
Rebuilding Together, a longtime, charitable partner of Sears, is a national nonprofit organization that provides low-income homeowners with critical home repairs and helps revitalize the communities in which they live.
Heroes at Home, created through a partnership between Sears and Rebuilding Together, is a national program designed to assist low-income members of the military, their families and veterans with needed home repairs and modifications.
Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than $23 million has been raised for Heroes at Home and veteran’s services.
Through more than 1,700 projects, almost 42,000 volunteers have donated 333,000 hours to support veterans and their families through critical repairs to veterans’ homes and nonprofit facilities that serve them.
“With the assistance of Rebuilding Together and Sears, this post will continue to serve veterans and the community, county and the eastern side of Nebraska for years to come,” Wiese said.