As a Corporate Sponsor for Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), Budget Blinds® and its awesome franchise owners have continued to install our exclusive Signature Series® faux wood blinds in the specially adapted, mortgage-free homes that HFOT builds for post-9/11 severely injured Veterans. While the pace of building the homes has been slower under pandemic precautions to ensure safety for all, HFOT, Budget Blinds, and our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions, who graciously donates the blinds, hold steadfast in the commitment to fulfill the HFOT mission to Build Homes and Rebuild Lives.
Flag raising in the front yard of SGT Daniel Casara’s new HFOT home (story below) with limited onsite people but over 80 virtual participants for his Key Ceremony
A place to finally call home
Home brings to mind comfort, safety, and security. But for severely injured Veterans who have experienced multiple amputations, full- and partial-paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and impairment of vision and hearing, conventional homes are restrictive, challenging, and unsafe. HFOT designs its homes with over 40 special adaptations to help restore freedom, independence, and safety for Veterans who navigate everyday life very differently since their life-changing injuries, including from a wheelchair, on prosthetic legs, or with crutches.
One-level, barrier-free homes allow for more independence of movement and full participation in family life with every room fully accessible
Favorite adaptations are the roll-in shower, accessible kitchen to safely prepare meals, automatic doors, accessible kids’ bedrooms for bedtime stories and tucking in, and NO STAIRS. See the key below for more of the special adaptations in every HFOT home:
- Lowered countertops and accessible appliances
- Roll-under access for wheelchairs (also in the master bath)
- Widened doorways and hallways
- Pull-down shelving
- Luxury vinyl plank floors
- Roll-in shower
- Hands-free automatic doors
- Therapy tub
- Master closet/safe room
Budget Blinds’ faux wood blinds throughout each home add beauty, comfort, and the ultimate convenience of one-touch-control motorized blinds in the master bath for added safety. Window blinds provide durability and functionality for years of care-free operation with important benefits that include light and privacy control and increased energy efficiency all year long. It’s truly a labor of love for our franchise owners who donate their time and expertise to ensure worry-free, professional installation. Additionally, Chad Campos, Springs Window Fashions regional rep, attends events as often as he can and although unable to attend virtual Key Ceremonies, he helped with registration at Sergeant Mario Lopez’s (story below) Community Kick Off Ceremony (pre-quarantine), marking the beginning the building process. Chad shares a sentiment shared by all: “As I attend these events, I am always reminded of the sacrifice these brave soldiers and their families make each day. Somehow just saying thank you never seems enough so I attend these ceremonies to show my support for our Troops.”
Ideal for every room, white faux wood blinds are moisture-resistant and will not warp, peel, chip, or turn yellow from sun exposure
Now, here are 2020’s first HFOT home recipients to receive their homes via virtual Key Ceremonies!
Meet Army Sergeant Daniel Casara
SGT Daniel Casara enlisted in the military in 1994 while at college, spending years in the Illinois National Guard in conjunction with civilian employment, until his first deployment to Iraq in 2005. In South Baghdad, the vehicle he was in ran over an anti-tank mine, flipping the vehicle, with resultant injuries of bilateral fractures to his right tibia and fibula, a shattered left tibia, shattered heel and ankle bones to both feet, and a dislocated right hip. Daniel has had countless hours of physical therapy, 24 surgeries, and is facing a hip replacement in the future.
He and his wife, Basia, are “over the moon excited” about the new, specially adapted, mortgage-free HFOT home in Ramona, CA, where they will finally be putting down roots after multiple moves during their eight years of marriage. There’s plenty of room for his teen-aged son, Denali, living in Illinois, to come and stay. Daniel shares, “From a physical standpoint, it’s going to be huge; from a financial it’s going to be ginormous!” Along with both he and Basia completing their college degrees, future plans to live out his “passion for people” include running for office and being an advocate for fellow Veterans and his community.
Daniel’s home build was impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions of limited numbers of assembled people, so the normal community and volunteer interactions had to been curtailed somewhat. His is the first HFOT home with a virtual Key Ceremony, but the joy of that is that instead of a still shot or two, you can click on this link and do the entire walk-through with him and Basia, sharing their on-the-spot excitement at the walk-in shower, pull-down cabinets in the kitchen, and all the space! “This home isn’t just about us; it’s about being able to share what God has blessed us with and we’re extremely grateful, overjoyed, and happy with everything. To all the sponsors and donors, it’s been a blessing and it’s so amazing and we’re just grateful and happy with what we have. Thank you for this.”—Daniel Casara
The Key Ceremony attendees, left to right: Elaine Casara (Daniel’s mom), Army SGT Daniel Casara, Basia Casara, Jennifer Youngren, Scott Youngren (home builder), and the two four-legged kids in the foreground, Vic and Sam
Franchise owner Rosie Buclatin and her team at Budget Blinds of Coronado were delighted at the opportunity to reach out in support of SGT Casara. Rosie shares, "I’m honored to be involved with Homes for Our Troops for a second time. The sacrifices that military personnel, like SGT Casara, have made allow us to enjoy the freedom we have today. Installing new Springs high-quality blinds along with a wonderful motorized blind over his tub, was the least I could do to show my appreciation." The professionally installed blinds throughout the house will ensure years of worry-free beauty, functionality, and energy savings for the family.
For more of Daniel’s story, click here to hear more of his journey.
Meet Army Sergeant Mario Lopez
SGT Mario Lopez was in high school when the 9/11 terrorist attacks became the catalyst for him enlisting in the Army in 2003 right after graduation, thinking, “If I don’t do it, who will?” On his second deployment in Afghanistan in 2008, his vehicle hit a 300-pound improvised explosive device (IED) and burst into flames, trapping him inside. His buddies pulled him to safety, saving his life, but he sustained burns to over 50 percent of his body, loss of his right arm and four fingers on his left hand, severe damage to his feet, and the loss of sight in his right eye. He spent two months in a medically induced coma and underwent multiple skin grafts and surgeries to reconstruct his face, left hand, and right foot. When he woke up, he had to relearn how to walk … and paint.
Losing his dominant arm, Mario thought he would never paint again, but in 2011 he started painting with his left hand and never stopped. His artwork has displayed at different art events and shows nationwide, and he’s currently working on putting together regional Veteran art shows across the country. His art not only grounded him, but it brought him together with his wife, Danielle. They met through mutual friends—she a scientist who wanted to be an artist and he an artist who loves science—and, as he tells it, they met, there were fireworks, and they married three months later.
The new HFOT home in New Braunfels, TX, will provide an ideal environment for Mario to participate more with his four kids, focus on his art, and dream a bright future that includes studying digital photography and opening his own photo business. He and Danielle co-authored a book entitled How I know: A Story to Strengthen Your Faith and he has plans to write a sequel. Mario says he feels blessed and honored to live in a time when people give so generously to Veterans like himself. “Homes for Our Troops is such a huge blessing for the families, to give them that freedom to follow their dreams and their passions and make this world a better place.”
The HFOT homes provide safety and security so the Veterans can focus on recovery and moving forward with their life’s work which often includes giving back to fellow Veterans and others
For Linda and Jeffrey Shield, franchise owners of Budget Blinds serving North San Antonio, this is the 16th time they’ve stepped into the HFOT partnership and measured and installed blinds for a severely injured Veteran and their family, showing that it’s a ministry very close to their hearts. “San Antonio is a very strong military community. Supporting Veterans in this ministry is an honor, especially knowing how much the families have sacrificed for our country. We are very proud to be partners with HFOT, doing our part to make each Veteran’s life better.”
Refresh your home with new window coverings
If you home could use a warm-weather style update to brighten your spaces, improve energy efficiency or add the convenience of motorization, Budget Blinds can help you customize all your windows with custom blinds, shutters, natural woven shades, cellular shades, and drapery in colors, styles and finishes for every taste and every budget. Call 866-879-9730 today or go online at www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you to schedule a free, in-home or virtual* consultation.
- Read the latest HFOT Foundations newsletter, May 2020, for stories that inspire.
- To make a donation to HFOT, visit We Proudly Support Our Troops.
*Virtual consultations may not be available at every location