Millstone volunteers do free extreme makeover on veterans home
Call it paying it forward. Call it "Extreme Home Makeover Jersey Style." Sseveral Millstone residents got together with time, labor and money and restored the home of Jerry and Estelle Gottlieb in one big thank-you-for-your-service.
Gottlieb, 93 served in the US Navy during World War II and the Korean War. It was after World War II that he met and married Estelle, his wife of 72 years, and they live in the house owned by Estelle's parents, which needed a lot of work.
Enter Tony Arpaia, a Millstone contractor who started a Facebook group called "Hands Reaching Out to Hands," with the goal of helping out a veteran in need.
"I started the FB site with the request that if anyone knew of a veteran that can fit this situation to please let me know," Arpaia told me via email. "Louise San Nicola, who is a friend and works in the school system and who is also friends with Jerry and Estelle, contacted me two days after that and introduced to me the 93-year-old veteran that was on vacation in Florida for the winter and would be returning in early May."
So the plan began: "We met at his home here in Millstone along with his neighbors. And together we entered and view the home. It was in dire need of repair. I took on the project with 0 funds and began putting together a working crew of friends and local contractors to rebuild his home. My collection of helpers great to over 500 people. And we did well over $125,000 in upgrades."
Among those upgrades are a new roof, garage doors, paving stones, flooring, carpeting, a handicap-accessible bathroom, appliances — they even paid the couple's property taxes for the rest of the year.
But what was priceless was the look on their faces when Jerry and Estelle arrived.
"When they pulled up in the driveway, they both looked at each other 'cause the exterior of the house was redone also," Arpaia said when he came on my show Tuesday night. "And they looked at each other and they grabbed each other's hand and they literally had tears in their eyes. And they looked a lot younger to me than 93 and 92 years old at that point because, when I saw the youthfulness in their face, it was actually amazing."
Jerry Gottlieb, a member of the Millstone Veterans council, continues to serve his country by volunteering on weekends on the Intrepid in New York City not to mention every veteran event in Millstone. This will be a Memorial Day that no one involved will ever forget.
Check out this gallery of the amazing work they've done:
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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