Making Veterans’ Lives Better, One Specially Adapted Home at a Time

Budget Blinds® became a Corporate Sponsor of Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) in 2014 with a commitment to place faux wood blinds in every HFOT house to be built over the next three years. In conjunction with our longtime, trusted vendor partner, Springs Window Fashions®, and our nationwide network of Budget Blinds independent franchise owners, 60 homes for injured Veterans have received professionally installed custom window blinds from our Signature Series® collection.

Budget Blinds is proud to support HFOT’s mission to build mortgage-free specially adapted homes for severely injured Veterans, post-9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Homes for Our Troops is an exemplary organization with the same high standards and integrity that are an integral part of the Budget Blinds’ franchise family.

  • HFOT is one of America’s top-rated Veterans and Military charities by both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch, and is an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Since 2004, they have built 213 homes across the country for severely injured Veterans.
  • Nearly 90 cents of every dollar is spent directly on Veterans.
  • HFOT provides assistance to members of all branches of the military who qualify.
  • Over 40 major special adaptations go into each home to restore independence and provide safety throughout.

Supporting Veterans with community service and providing entrepreneurial opportunities for franchise business ownership are hallmarks of Budget Blinds, sister brands Tailored Living® and Concrete Craft, and parent company, Home Franchise Concepts® (HFC). Aligning with HFOT is one way to thank our brave Veterans for their service and help them build secure futures. The forever homes that HFOT builds allow severely injured Veterans to focus on recovery and raising their families.

Meet Army Sergeant Nicholas Mendes

In Afghanistan in 2011, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated underneath the vehicle that SGT Nicholas Mendes was in, resulting in multiple fractures of his vertebrae and paralyzing him from the neck down. He reports being conscious for about 15 seconds after the blast, and waking up a week later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Family was distant, so his dad stayed at the hospital with him through the arduous therapies. After a month at Walter Reed, SGT Mendes was transferred to the VA Center in Long Beach, and over time, a volunteer (and now his wife), Wendy, would check on him to see if he needed anything and shares that their relationship “kind of grew from there.”

His motorized wheelchair barely fit in most rooms of their previous home, making even day-to-day routines a great challenge since SGT Mendes is dependent on Wendy for assistance with most things, including bathing and self-care. They are excited about the new HFOT specially adapted home that will eliminate barriers. Wendy is grateful for the safety the new home offers, especially the track lift system that will assist with his mobility. A fully automated Smarthome system will allow him to control lighting, TV viewing and going outside unassisted, giving him more independence and reducing the danger of him falling. A blended family with four children, they look forward to SGT Mendes being able to focus on recovery and rebuilding his life plans, including pursuing a career in real estate. “A fully adapted home makes our day-to-day life so much easier, and we are so thankful for this opportunity from Homes for Our Troops.”

Kitchens are the heart of a home, and SGT Mendes makes a poignant statement about how he’ll love the new HFOT kitchen. “I like to be all up in her way while she’s cooking. [Now] I just have to sit back there a couple of feet and watch. [In the new house], I’ll be able to roll up to the sink.”

Franchise owner Tony Richerson of Budget Blinds serving Temecula has been involved in several HFOT home builds in his area. “As always, I believe we need to take every opportunity to aid those who have paid a high price to serve their country.” He was delighted to participate again with measuring and installing the faux wood blinds, including motorization in the master bath and voice-activated motorization of the master bedroom windows, using trusted vendor partner Somfy’s® technology integrated with the WebPilotUSA home automation system.

Click here to see SGT Mendes and Wendy share their story.

Meet Marine Lance Corporal Jorge Ortiz

Enlisting in the Marine Corps right out of high school, 19-year-old LCpl Jorge Ortiz was on his first deployment as a Combat Cameraman in Afghanistan in 2011. Working with a team that located, identified, inventoried and destroyed enemy weapons found in homes, he stepped on a pressure plate IED in a booby-trapped home that resulted in catastrophic injuries, including loss of both his legs and severe arm injury. His teammates saved his life with immediate ministrations and carried him through a freezing creek to a British rescue helicopter that began his journey: Bastion Hospital, Lundstuhl, Germany, Bethesda National Medical Center for two months, the VA in Palo Alto for six months and, finally, to the Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego for an eventual year and a half of treatments and therapies.

He met his wife, Aiyanna, in San Diego; she was a volunteer doing massage therapy for wounded warriors. They married on Valentine’s Day in 2015. She is military, having served in the Army and presently in the Navy Reserve. LCpl Ortiz enjoys spending time with family and friends and is extensively involved in athletic programs in the San Diego area, including surfing, SCUBA diving, swimming and weight lifting. He wants to get into a more body-building lifestyle and Aiyanna is pursuing becoming a certified recreational therapist.

The specially adapted HFOT home will give back the independence that LCpl Ortiz desires. “In the new home, I have to learn how to do everything myself and not be dependent on anyone else. Being independent is the most important thing for an amputee or someone like me. Giving a wounded serviceman the opportunity to have a home and to be free…it’s great.”


LCpl Ortiz is overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity, and selflessness of the American people who have helped him during his recovery. “I am truly touched by the outpouring of support. The assistance given by Homes for Our Troops greatly improves my life by decreasing the daily stresses of my injuries by providing me with a home built for my specific needs. Thank you so much for this amazing gift.”

Joyce Tonnaer, franchise owner of Budget Blinds serving San Marcos, donated time and expertise to measure and install the faux wood blinds. It’s her first HFOT house, but not the last; a second one is already scheduled. “Leaving the ground-breaking event, I had an incredible feeling… I felt really good! Being part of creating this beautiful home for LCpl Jorge Ortiz and his family is really rewarding. They deserve to spend the rest of their lives in a safe environment and live in a home that will help improve their daily lifestyle.”

You can hear LCpl Ortiz and Aiyanna share their experiences by clicking here.

Custom window blinds add beauty and functionality

Window treatments come in many styles, including blinds, shutters, shades, curtains and drapes. Our faux wood blinds were chosen for the HFOT homes for a variety of reasons to ensure long-term functionality and ease of care.

  • Custom 2” white faux wood blinds fit any doors and windows for complete light and privacy control.
  • Resistance to moisture and other environmental factors like extreme heat or cold make them appropriate for any part of the country.
  • These blinds will never fade, chip or peel, remaining beautiful and worry-free for years.
  • Extremely versatile, the classic lines of faux wood blinds are compatible with any décor and completely stylish as a standalone window treatment or paired with other window coverings such as valances, curtains or drapes.

If your windows could use a little TLC or need a complete update, your local Budget Blinds Style Consultant can help with the newest trends and styles in blinds, shades, shutters, drapes and more. Call 866-879-9730 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online at to find a Style Consultant near you. Ask about the convenience of motorization, eco-friendly products and child-safe cordless options for all your window covering needs.

Go to to find out how you can support Homes for Our Troops or make a donation online. To read the latest Foundations newsletter, including a special feature of the precious new babies born to home recipients, click here.

To learn more about Budget Blinds’ support of Homes for Our Troops, check the Giving Back section on our website.

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