Building Homes for Heroes expands benefits program, makes first contribution to family of FDNY firefighter
NEW YORK, Dec. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The family of a fallen New York firefighter is the first recipient of financial support from Building Homes for Heroes under its newly expanded mission to help first responders nationwide.
The nonprofit, which for 17 years has constructed, built and modified homes for injured military veterans and their families, announced today it will pay down the mortgage for Angela Skudin, whose husband, Casey, a decorated FDNY firefighter, was killed during a family vacation earlier this year.
He was with his wife and their two children when a heavy tree limb fell in a windstorm, crashing through the roof of their vehicle at the Biltmore Estate, a tourist spot in Asheville, North Carolina. Casey had planned the trip to celebrate what would have been his 46th birthday on Father’s Day.
“In an instant, I lost the love of my life,” Angela said. “There have been moments since then when it all feels too overwhelming. This outreach from the Building Homes for Heroes team not only honors my late husband’s service, but it keeps us in our home so we can focus on healing.”
The holiday season gift comes just weeks after Building Homes for Heroes, incorporated in New York, received approval from state regulators to launch fundraising for its new housing benefit program assisting police, firefighters and emergency first responders.
The organization said the Skudin family has faced challenges. Casey, assigned to Ladder Company 137 in Rockaway, Queens, was short of the 20-year mark needed to secure a full pension at the department. Angela has been fighting for that as well as caring for their 10-year-old son, who suffered spinal fractures and other medical issues in the accident.
“Casey and Angela’s story is tragic, and it underscores the importance of our decision to take our home-for-veterans’ program and expand it to first responders and their families,” said Building Homes for Heroes’ founder, New York businessman Andy Pujol, who founded Building Homes for Heroes after volunteering in the search-and-rescue of 9/11 alongside the FDNY and NYPD. “It’s extra special for our organization, based in Island Park, to help a family here in our own coastal community.”
He said the courage and sacrifice of veterans is beyond inspirational – as has been the work and dedication to communities by the nation’s first responders.
Casey had been the valedictorian of his fire academy class. In 2009, the department awarded him its Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal after he’d entered the water, untethered, to rescue a drowning surfer off the 96th Street beach. A lifelong surfer, he regularly competed in triathlons and was a lifeguard for the town of Hempstead on Long Island.
For Building Homes for Heroes, the mission expansion marks a pivotal point in its charitable efforts. The organization reached its milestone 300th home for a veteran in September and is focused on delivering more homes in the next year, including No. 343 around Sept. 11, honoring the 343 members of the New York Fire Department who died on 9/11. With continued support, the nonprofit is looking to help many more first responders and families.
Building Homes for Heroes
Building Homes for Heroes builds and gifts mortgage-free homes, and completes home modifications, for veterans and their families, and provides many more inspirational services on the road to recovery to help them build better and brighter lives ahead. The organization said 95.19% of every dollar donated in 2021 went directly to its mission, the 11th straight year reaching a program rating of 93% or higher. It also received a perfect 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for seven straight years, including a 100% rating in transparency and accountability. See www.buildinghomesforheroes.org.
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SOURCE Building Homes for Heroes