Paying it forward, Military supporters give Soldier new home
October 7, 2010
- Pfc. James Stanly received a once in a lifetime donation enabling him to reunite with his daughter under a new roof.
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Imagine the pure joy and excitement if someone offered you a house at no cost.
That is the way Pfc. James Stanly felt Sept. 17 as a mobile trailer was driven nearly 400 miles from Picatinny Arsenal to his current residence in Chateaugay, NY, where it was presented to him.
Stanly, 27, is a New Jersey National Guardsman based in Jersey City. He returned from a tour in Iraq in 2009 and found that his current home, a trailer not far from the Canadian border, was rotting from rain seeping through the roof and causing moldy-unlivable conditions that threatened his health.
Fearing those conditions could cause problems for his daughter, Charlotte Lennon, 3, for whom he is the sole provider, Stanly was forced to move Charlotte in with her grandmother.
Through several organizations that cooperated to make the trailer donation possible, Stanly will be reunited with Charlotte soon.
When Stanly finally decided he needed to do something about his current living conditions he contacted his unit's Family Assistance office, which then reached out to New Jersey's Family Readiness Council.
The council is a non-profit organization that provides assistance for Guardsmen in their time of need.
Stanly originally sought financial assistance repair his moldy home.
When Richard Eastman, a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce who also sits on the Family Readiness Council, heard of Stanly's urgent need for a place to live, he immediately contacted Picatinny Arsenal.
Eastman, a retired Lt. Col., and assistant to the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, placed a call to Lee Moreau, director of Picatinny's Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation office.
At Picatinny, plans were under way to decommission several trailers being used as temporary lodging facilities and replace them with log cabins. Once the trailers had been moved to a secluded location, the search to find them new owners began.
When Moreau's phone rang, Stanly's request landed on his lap.
"This is the way it is supposed to happen," Moreau said. "This is happening right on the heels of the signing of our community covenant. Several supporting agencies coming together to help a service member in need.
The readiness council paid $4,500 for the nearly 20-year-old trailer, then gave the trailer to Stanly. The council also paid for the trailer's transportation to upstate New York.
"It was overwhelming to see this kind of kindness shown to me. I could not say a word. I thought saying thank you would be an insult because of all they (organizations) had done," Stanly said.
Stanley is attending North Country Community College and studying to become a licensed practicing nurse.
The trailer, which is also furnished and has air conditioning is the "complete opposite of what I am living in now," Stanly said before receiving his new home.
"I've been telling people from my unit what's been going on. There are people out there that will find a way to help you out if you need help. I want to thank everyone involved."