2017 is a year of milestones for Budget Blinds®. This year…
- Marks 25 years of providing exceptional window coverings to homeowners and businesses
- Fulfilling a three -year partnership with Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), working toward the corporate goal of donating $1 million in cash, good, and services
- $90,000 raised in individual franchisee donations to HFOT since the inception of our partnership three years ago
- The third annual $15,000 cash donation to Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC)
- Home Franchise Concepts (HFC), the parent company of Budget Blinds, will award a franchise business to a qualified Veteran on November 11, Veteran’s Day
Additional veteran support activities over the years have established a legacy of supporting Veterans and helped to bolster Budget Blinds’ 25th Anniversary milestones. Past and ongoing Veteran support includes:
- Substantial discounts to assist Veterans with becoming franchise business owners, including $1 million to Veterans who have joined our system.
- Donating services and products for Veterans’ home renovations through such avenues as NBC’s George to the Rescue and Designing Spaces’ Military Makeover airing on Lifetime®
- Individual franchisees doing local projects to assist Veterans in their communities.
2014 was a key year in Veteran support, and Budget Blinds became a corporate sponsor of HFOT. The partnership involves supplying and installing faux wood blinds from our Signature Series® collection in all the specially adapted homes built by HFOT, with a goal of donating $1 million in cash, products, and services to the non-profit organization over the three year period. Thanks to our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions, we were able to commit to such a lofty goal.
In the same year, Budget Blinds joined with the ministry of Wounded Warriors Canada to support Canada’s ill and injured Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families by promoting awareness of the catastrophic effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the “invisible injury” of many returning Veterans. Again, Springs Window Fashions came alongside Budget Blinds with cash donations and active promotion of WWC’s Veteran assist programs.
The HFOT end-game: mortgage-free, specially adapted homes
Key Ceremonies are what it’s all about–presenting a Veteran with a new, forever home. The July 15 Key Ceremony for Marine Private First Class Isaac Blunt (read his story below) was the venue for the third annual $50,000 check to Homes for Our Troops, bringing the total cash donation to date to $150,000. The check was presented to Tom Landwermeyer, Brigadier General (Ret) USA and new President and CEO of HFOT. Pictured below, left to right: Kristen Gettel-Barrett, West Sr. Field Sales Representative, Springs Window Fashions; Lloyd Biggs, franchise owner of Budget Binds serving North San Diego County Coastal; Gena Van Horne, Marketing Manager, Home Franchise Concepts/Budget Blinds; PFC Isaac Blunt and Tom Landwermeyer, HFOT.
Post-9/11 Veterans who receive the HFTO homes have suffered catastrophic injuries such as multiple amputations, paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With the support of corporate and individual donors, HFOT builds and awards the homes to enable severely injured Veterans and their families to focus on recovery and rebuilding their lives. Aligning with HFOT’s philosophy, Budget Blinds agrees that these homes are a moral obligation, not charity, to Veterans who sacrificed so much in service to our country.
Meet Marine Private First Class Isaac Blunt
PFC Isaac Blunt watched the two towers fall on 9/11 when he was in the fifth grade and became dead-set on joining the military, which he did right out of high school. On his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, he stepped on a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED) and sustained severe injuries, including loss of both legs, his left eye and four fingers of his left hand. He says it took about 2-1/2 years in recovery before he could be on his prosthetic legs, walking around without too many issues.
The specially adapted HFOT home will give PFC Blunt desired stability and security so that his five-year-old daughter can join him in California and have a place to call home. Blunt shares that he’s “definitely looking to be a family again.” Going back to school to become a Certified Financial Planner is another goal that will be facilitated by this home. “The service you provide to make our lives easier is beyond words,” he says. “A specially adapted home will mean the world to me.” He plays wheelchair basketball on the Balboa Medical Center’s team and dreams one day of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Franchise co-owners Adam Berryman and Lloyd Biggs of Budget Blinds serving North San Diego County Coastal had the privilege of measuring and installing faux wood blinds for PFC Blunt, their first HFOT home. Biggs shares: “The Key Ceremony was awe-inspiring. These men and women volunteer for service in a time of war and, in some cases, end up with devastating physical and psychological injuries. While they can never be repaid, building and outfitting these amazing, beautiful homes for these heroes is a small token of our nation’s gratitude for their service and sacrifice. I am a retired Marine; Adam’s family served in the Navy. We are so very honored and humbled to play the small part we do to support the Homes for Our Troops organization.”
Listen to PFC Blunt share his experiences by clicking here.
The awe-inspiring Key Ceremony
Every Key Ceremony brings together the people involved in seeing the homes built. HFOT personnel, local community leaders, new neighbors, sponsors like Budget Blinds and Springs Window Fashions, other Veterans who lend support and, of course, the families of the Veteran receiving the home. It’s a day of celebration, honoring the Veteran and presenting their beautiful home.
It all starts with the Veteran being welcomed amidst cheers and flag-waving, the Marine Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem. Guest speakers from HFOT and local community leaders share the mission and commitment to continue helping returning Veterans settle into welcoming communities across the country. Budget Blinds’ Gena Van Horne, Marketing Manager for Budget Blinds, spoke for Budget Blinds and the entire HFC franchise network:
“Supporting Veterans with community service and providing entrepreneurial opportunities for franchise business ownership to Veterans are hallmarks of Budget Blinds and our parent company, Home Franchise Concepts. Many of Budget Blinds’ employees and franchise owners across the country have personal connections to the U.S. Military, so aligning with Homes for Our Troops is just another way to thank our brave Veterans for their service and help them build secure futures upon their return home.
“Our partnership with Homes for Our Troops has been incredibly humbling. At a corporate level, we feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to these true American heroes, as do our independent franchise owners across the country who have donated not only their time but over $90,000 of their own funds to HFOT since the inception of our partnership almost three years ago.
“We’d also like to thank our valued manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions, as their window coverings and today’s cash donation brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of donating $1 million in cash, products, and services to HFOT. Today we’d like to thank and honor all of the members of the military as well as their families that have given up so much to fight for our freedom. It is our hope that the synergies between Budget Blinds and Homes for Our Troops will continue to honor returning Veterans for years to come.”
The final speaker was PFC Isaac Blunt, joined on the platform by his girlfriend, Kami, and his daughter, Izzy. He thanked Homes for Our Troops and its generous supporters, and his brothers who “always had his back.” He shared about his long and difficult recovery that, “Without my daughter, I would not have had anything to fight for.”
After speeches, he raised the American flag in his front yard and cut the ribbon, opening access to his new home. A tour of the home allowed everyone present to participate in the wonders of the specially adapted home, including the kitchen—always a favorite with the roll-under countertops and pull-down cabinets.
Wounded Warriors Canada: Honour the Fallen, Help the Living
WWC provides support to a diverse set of programs and services for Canadian wounded soldiers and their families, to help them live abundantly despite the effects of PTSD and other results of war that can impact daily life. Examples of the many assistance programs include:
- COPE – Couples Overcoming PTSD Every Day
- PTSD Service Dogs and Equine Therapy
- Veteran’s Transition Network — career advancement
- Peer Family Support Assistance Fund – mental health services financial aid
By supporting WWC, Budget Blinds is helping struggling Veterans get the help they need to overcome PTSD, strengthen family relationships, re-enter the civilian workforce, and even “pay it forward” by helping other Veterans.
For the past three years, the Budget Blinds Canadian Summit has been the venue to make a cash donation to WWC, this year’s donation brings the total to $45,000.The Summit brings together Canadian franchise owners, vendors and Home Office leadership for information dissemination, training, product knowledge advancement, and networking.
During the three-day event, WWC is invited for the $15,000 check presentation and as a featured speaker. This year the WWC representative was Todd Burns, who holds a Master of Social Work degree, is the WWC Provincial Coordinator–Nova Scotia, and retired Canadian Armed Forces. He is also a Wounded Warrior himself, and says “Wounded Warriors Canada saved my marriage and probably my life.” Read excerpts of his story below.
Serving in Afghanistan in 2007 and sending out two convoys daily ultimately resulted in sending 22 soldiers home in flag-draped boxes, and Todd was devastated because in the course of his work he had promised parents again and again that he would “bring their children home,” and he didn’t. War brought him to the realization that he could not understand how one human being could do such things to another human being, and he returned home, in his words, “not normal.”
Suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, Todd withdrew from his family, had nightmares, flashbacks and ended up dulling the pain with rum, every day. Finally, his wife and daughters convinced him to get help, but it was years before he was able to emerge from the darkness of PTSD, through the help of Wounded Warriors Canada. His favorite program and one he assists with today is Can Praxis, where horses are central to helping Veterans and their families learn how to effectively promote communication to reduce and manage conflict.
War changes people, as Todd’s youngest daughter told him, “My father went to Afghanistan and you came home.” PTSD takes many different forms with its sufferers and WWC is committed to spreading the word about how devastating it can be to Veterans and their families. Remember:
- Although not visible on the outside, a PTSD sufferer can be seriously wounded
- Hidden injuries can include emotional and psychological damage
- Don’t assume a Veteran that looks “okay” is not hurting and in need of help
To hear Todd’s entire, inspiring speech at the Canadian Summit, click here.
Budget Blinds is proud to support both WWC and HFOT in their efforts to enrich the lives of U.S. and Canadian Veterans who have sacrificed so much so that we all can live in freedom. To learn more about the Budget Blinds partnerships or to make a donation, click on the links below:
- We Proudly Support Our Troops, Homes for Our Troops
- We Proudly Support Our Canadian Troops, Wounded Warriors Canada
Join the 25th Anniversary celebration of Budget Blinds by updating your windows with stylish blinds, classic shutters, new Inspired ShadesTM in organic materials, traditional shades, custom drapery and more. Call 866-879-9730 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or find a Style Consultant near you. With Budget Blinds, you’ll find style and service for every budget and every need, including energy efficiency, eco-friendly products, cordless options for child safety and motorization for smart home convenience.