CU Times Senior Correspondent
DENVER -- On target, CUNA's Homes for Our Troops project to build two homes for wounded Iraqi soldiers during the Republican and Democratic conventions made new progress last week on construction and on the $300,000 in fundraising.
"We're waiting on some inspections, and now it looks the home for Sgt. Strong will be completely ready by the first or second week of August, when we can hand over the deed at the convention," said Chris Kemm, grassroots advocacy manager and project coordinator for the Credit Union Associations of Colorado/Wyoming.
Like its Minnesota counterpart, the CUAC since late last year has been collaborating with CUNA on the humanitarian venture and working with the host committees on convention planning for the GOP and Democratic Party gatherings.
While aiding the support troop cause, CUs hope to gain some high-profile public exposure as the two $150,000 homes are presented to Army Sgt. Travis Strong of Colorado during the Democratic convention here Aug. 24-27 and to Sgt. Marcus Kuboy of Minnesota at the GOP meeting Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul.
For Sgt. Strong's home, Kemm said the CUAC and CUNA have reached 74% of the $150,000 fundraising goal, while a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Credit Union Network said it has accumulated $90,000 but expects to hit $150,000 for Sgt. Kuboy's home by convention time.
Sgt. Strong, who lost both legs in Iraq in 2006 and has been at a San Diego rehab center, is moving with his family into a temporary Denver residence July 15, said Kemm. The new home in suburban Golden will be fully equipped and outfitted for Sgt. Strong's special needs as will Sgt. Kuboy's new home in Woodbury, Minn., a Twin Cities suburb.
Sgt. Marcus Kuboy, a native of Robbindale, Minn., was wounded in Fallujah in March 2007 when an improved explosive device was detonated under his vehicle.
Meanwhile, staffers and CU executives from both the Colorado and Minnesota leagues along with CUNA reps conducted separate "build brigades" last month at the construction sites, with hundreds of CU employees and volunteers showing up to lend a hand.
In addition to CUNA, also helping sponsor the fundraising and home construction have been Homes for Our Troops, a Taunton, Mass., nonprofit that for years has been building homes on its own for wounded veterans. The National Journal Group, a Washington-based publisher producing political and policy periodicals, has also joined the cause.
Both political parties' convention committees and several labor groups have aided in making arrangements, home building and fundraising. One, the St. Paul Building Trades Council, joined in constructing Sgt. Kuboy's home over the June 27-29 weekend.