Three Veterans Welcome The New Year In Specially Adapted Homes

Budget Blinds® is starting the New Year off on a high note, welcoming three Veterans to their new, mortgage-free, specially adapted homes from Homes for Our Troops (HFOT). As a corporate sponsor and supporter of HFOT’s mission to build special adapted homes for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, Budget Blinds, along with our manufacturing partner Springs Window Fashions who donates the blinds, installs custom faux wood blinds in each home built. It’s a tangible way to say, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”

Brighter Future for Veterans Every home built by Homes for Our Troops helps to ensure a brighter, safer future for a severely injured Veteran and their family (read SGT Wickens’ story below)

Purposeful design for a brighter tomorrow

HFOT homes have over 40 special adaptations, compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, ensuring full and safe access to every area of the home. This includes automatic door openers, hardwood flooring, no-lip thresholds at doorways, wider hallways and doorways for wheelchair access, roll-under sinks and countertops, roll-in shower, and more, that help to restore freedom and independence lost due to injuries received while serving in the Armed Forces. Our exclusive Signature Series® faux wood blinds provide a finishing touch that gives comfort and convenience with light and privacy control in every room, as well as energy efficiency throughout the home.

New Window Blinds in Veteran's HomeBeautiful window blinds help turn a house into a home, enhancing everyday living with comfort and convenience

Company-wide commitment and participation

Budget Blinds and parent company, Home Franchise Concepts (HFC), are equally committed to the HFOT partnership. For local builds, Budget Blinds franchise owners step up and volunteer time and expertise to measure and install the blinds. HFC personnel participate in builds close to the Home Office in Irvine, CA, by attending Volunteer Days and Key Ceremonies. Recently, several HFC associates attended Volunteer Day (putting in the landscaping) for Army Specialist Carlos Gomez, in Menifee, CA (whose story is below):

  • It was such a rewarding day; this is my third time being able to assist in a Volunteer Day. I love meeting the family and seeing previous recipients of an HFOT home also volunteering and giving back to this amazing cause and organization.” —Beverly Soncrant, Executive Assistant
  • Participating in Volunteer Day is special for me and I am thankful to be a part of an organization that does so much to give back to our Veterans. Whether folks were pitching mulch or carrying sod, they always did it with a smile and a word of encouragement to those working around them. These are people who realize that the sore muscles, blistered hands, and time from their weekends are minute sacrifices when compared to those that SPC Gomez made protecting our freedom.” —Jonathan Thiessen, Chief Development Officer
  • It was an honor to participate in this event and so exciting to see all the folks that came together to make it a success.” —Aaron Cady, Director of Franchise Licensing    

Home Franchise Concepts Volunteer DayThe HFC crew taking a break for the camera with SGT Gomez are Jonathan Thiessen, Aaron Cady, Holly Vincenzini, and Beverly Soncrant; breaking a sweat is Adian Cady, Aaron’s son, helping to lay the sod

For franchise owners Sue and Rudy Williams, they hit the jackpot with their first and second HFOT homes being awarded the same day in their territory, Budget Blinds of Menifee. Their team was ready, willing, and able to measure and install the blinds for both Veterans, 1st SGT Marcus Wilson and SPC Carlos Gomez, whose stories are below. Sue shares, “We were so happy to hear about the Homes for Our Troops opportunity! Last weekend we were able to attend two Key Ceremonies for both heroes who are so deserving of a special home that makes life easier to navigate and allows them to spend more quality time with their families. Community, friends, and family came out for the events, and the love and energy for these special families was undeniable. We are truly grateful to our company, Budget Blinds, and our partner, Springs Window Fashions, for allowing us to do our part in providing the window coverings for these deserving families.”

Key CeremonyRudy and Sue Williams, owners of Budget Blinds of Menifee got a double dose of Key Ceremony excitement, including motorcades, speeches, and ribbon cuttings as the two HFOT homes were awarded

 Meet Marine First Sergeant Marcus Wilson

First Sergeant Marcus Wilson

First Sergeant Marcus Wilson followed in his “Superhero” father’s footsteps and became a Marine. On a second deployment in 2006 in Iraq, the vehicle he was in ran over an improvised explosive device (IED). He was the only survivor of the blast and he lost his left leg, sustained six fractured vertebrae, several broken bones, a collapsed lung, and burns to his face. Despite 42 surgeries within four years of long and painful rehabilitation, he returned to service for an additional four years.

He met his wife, Briarly, an Air Force Veteran, post-injury at Camp Pendleton and it was pretty much love at first sight. A long-distance romance finally brought Marcus to Temecula, Briarly’s home, where she first learned he was an amputee. She shares, “We fell in love over the phone and online, I didn’t know he was an amputee, but it didn’t matter. He’s never been broken or disadvantaged to me.” A real-life Brady Bunch; he had six children, she had thee, and baby Mason brings the total to 10 kids!

Their current home is restrictive, Marcus cannot spend as much quality time with the family as he would like. Says he hasn’t had a shower in three years unless they go to a motel, and he’s looking forward to the roll-in shower, accessible bathrooms, and open floorplan. “Having an adapted home and getting my freedom back is another step in recovery,” he says. Marcus has won Gold Medals for the Warrior Games in sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball and recently hand cycled in the Army Ten-Miler.

New Home Ribbon Cutting The climax of the day, Marcus receiving the key and cutting the ribbon to enter his new home

The new HFOT home in Winchester, CA, will let him literally “put down roots,” he has 26 potted fruit trees to plant and with the time and financial stability the forever home will bring, he hopes to start a nonprofit devoted to helping children with physical limitations. He shares, “First of all I want to say thank you for all the people and organizations and different companies that support Homes for Our Troops. Through your donations, you give me back time to heal and to nurture relationships, to share my story, and encourage those like me.”

Hear Marcus and Briarly share their journey by clicking here.

Meet Army Specialist Carlos Gomez

 Army Specialist Carlos Gomez

SPC Carlos Gomez joined the Army at 20, already a dad and wanting to provide a better life for his son than the tough childhood he experienced. Months before his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, now dad to two boys, he felt a foreboding that was realized when the vehicle he was driving hit a 600-pound IED, resulting in the loss of his right leg and a spinal cord injury. He blacked out and woke up a month later from an induced coma, discovering his leg was amputated, his spine was fused, and his best friend had been killed. Depression became very real, but fatherhood stabilized him: “Being able to watch my kids grow up and share memories with them makes me eager to give life another try and not feel sorry for myself.”

The new, mortgage-free HFOT home is in Menifee, CA, to be close to family and his mom who will now be able to give more assistance to him and her grandsons. His hobbies include mountain climbing, scuba diving, dirt biking, and cross-country skiing. He presently works with the Army Corps of Engineers and is involved with motivational speaking to other newly injured servicemembers, helping them come to accept their new bodies. Life goals include completing college, volunteering at homeless shelters, and being a great father and role model to his boys.

Gomez Family Clan A joyous day for the whole clan as SPC Gomez and his boys start a new chapter of life in their forever home

The special adaptations in the house will provide safety and freedom to take better care of himself and his sons. The roll-in shower and wheelchair accessible kitchen will be timesaving and enable Carlos to better handle everyday needs, and he especially wants HFOT donors and supporters to know this home will be beneficial for his future. “Never in a million years did I ever think or dream that something like this would happen to me. It brings a new life, a new beginning for us and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Listen to Carlos share his story by clicking here.

Meet Army Sergeant Patrick Wickens

 Army Sergeant Patrick Wickens

In Iraq in 2003, Army Sergeant Patrick Wickens was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, resulting in the loss of his right leg above the knee and shrapnel wounds and burns to his left leg. He survived due to the medic and teammates who rallied to attend him with tourniquets and other life-saving measures, as both femoral arteries were severed in the blast. Once in the States, multiple surgeries and skin grafts followed, but after repeated infections, his right leg was amputated at the hip, eliminating the possibility of a prosthetic.

Patrick is a stay-at-home dad with his two sons, nine-year-old Gavin, and one-year-old Carter. His mobility is in his wheelchair or hopping around on one leg, which is challenging and risky. His wife, Jenna, worries about his safety when she is at work and says, “How many times do I call you in a day? I’m a nervous wreck.” They’ll both be glad for the peace of mind that the new home will give. Patrick leads an active lifestyle by playing golf, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, cycling, exercising, and traveling. He volunteers with the nonprofit, The Mission Continues, building playgrounds and fixing bicycles in his community, and with Fairways for Warriors, a nonprofit that provides golf equipment, instruction, and outings for injured Veterans and their families.

Choosing to live in Orlando, FL, the mortgage-free, specially adapted HFOT home will be a game-changer. Patrick will have an easier time maneuvering around the house with daily tasks, he’ll be able to go back to school, Jenna will be less worried about him being home alone and, free from banks and a mortgage, they’ll be able do more things as a family. Patrick says he cannot thank HFOT donors, volunteers, and supporters enough for making his home a reality. “This home will be the biggest blessing my family has ever received. My entire family will benefit from this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll sleep better at night and not worry about how I’m going to function the next day.”

New Specially Adapted Homes                                                       All smiles as the dream of a specially adapted home becomes a reality

For Julia McAfee, franchise owner of Budget Blinds of Oviedo and East Orlando, this was the first HFOT house in her area and she and her staff were excited to participate. Their precise and professional measuring and installation services will ensure years of functionality and convenience for the family, including energy savings and the added safety of motorized blinds in the master bath. Julia shares, “Our military put their lives on the line so that we can live in the land of the free. We believe it is our responsibility as Americans to take care of our wounded Vets and their families; we cannot express our gratitude enough to these soldiers. Helping through the HFOT program is the least we can do, and it was our honor and privilege to be a part of SGT Wickens’ new home. We look forward to helping with as many homes in our area as possible.”

Share Patrick’s and Jenna’s experiences in video: Before The Build.

New year, new windows

If it’s time to update your window coverings or you’d like to improve energy efficiency or add the convenience of motorization, Budget Blinds can help you customize all you windows with shutters, blinds, natural woven shades, cellular shades, drapery, and more, in colors, styles and finishes for every budget. Improve your home’s energy efficiency, update your style, switch to cordless operation for child safety, or “go smart” with several motorization options. Call 866-879-9730 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online at to find a Style Consultant near you.