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Resignation - Open Letter from Kirt to the Veterans and Friends of Homes For Our Troops PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kirt Rebello   
Thursday, 18 September 2008 00:00


September 18, 2008


To the Veterans and Friends of Homes For Our Troops,


     It is with mixed emotions that I inform you of my resignation from Homes For Our Troops. As some of you may already know, I have been working with HFOT in my transition from my active role since late July, and my transition was recently completed.


     There are many factors that contribute to a tough decision like this one and chief among them was my personal desire to spend less time away from my family, and continue with my educational goals that I had put on hold. And having helped grow HFOT to its current, self-sustainable point, I felt that now was a good time for me to make my transition. There is a great team of people in place at HFOT that will continue to accomplish our very important mission, and I feel confident that they will do an excellent job.


     The past four-plus years have been some of the most memorable years of my life. Watching this organization grow from shortly after its inception, and knowing that I was privileged enough to be entrusted with helping guide it towards its success, is an unforgettable experience that has changed me forever. But perhaps the toughest and most sorely missed part, that comes with my departure, will be missing some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege to work with… the Veterans and friends of Homes For our Troops.


     In the creation of any organization, the initial focus is on “who is running” the organization but once all of you had entrusted us with your faith in running HFOT, the organization quickly became your organization, and that’s when it really began to shine. Literally thousands of you put your trust in us to ensure that we would guide the overall effort in a way that you wanted, and then each of you stepped in with your trust and did your part. I can’t tell you how humbling that was to me, and how hard it pushed me to do my best to support you in this effort. It is because of you (our Veterans and friends of HFOT) that we are able to accomplish our mission, and it is you for whom we at HFOT worked  to ensure that you were properly supported in carrying out our mission. You are all part of a rare breed of giving folks, who sacrifice for others without hesitation, and I will deeply miss working hand-in-hand with all of you.


     To the Veterans of HFOT: You are among the people for whom I hold the deepest respect. You have made a sacrifice for us all, and we can never repay you for that. Our efforts through HFOT are only our way of saying “Thank you” for all you have done, and for the tremendous sacrifices you and your families have made. I was humbled by the trust you placed in us, and greatly appreciated the further sacrifices you made in opening your lives up to the public in support of our mission. Most people might think that you are just “given a house” …but you know how it is much more than that, especially in these young years of HFOT.


     You know that because of the public nature of our projects and the need to raise awareness of our mission, it can be a bit of an invasion of your privacy... as you would likely prefer to work on your recovery in private. And with our mission being close to political issues like the War on Terror and/or Veteran’s health care, speaking with reporters could sometimes be tricky. But whether-or-not you were having a good day or a bad day, or whether-or-not you were in unbearable pain, when the cameras rolled and the reporters asked questions, you put on your “game face” and helped support the mission. And you didn’t do it because you wanted to get your house built, because most of you didn’t even ask for these houses, a family member usually applied for you… you did it because you knew it would get other houses built, for other severely injured veterans.  


     When this organization was first founded, SGT Peter Damon was the recipient of our first home. But Peter wanted nothing to do with HFOT unless he was given a promise that other homes would be built for other severely injured veterans, too. And with Pete’s faith in us, he lent his name and story to HFOT, he opened his life up to the public and, in the end, he gave HFOT the legitimacy it needed to get started. Without Peter’s trust in HFOT, and the subsequent trust that the rest of you have placed in us, we would not be where we are today. Not surprisingly, that spirit has continued with each of you. It’s an honorable state of mind that few on the outside get to witness, but it is a reflection of your tremendous willingness to sacrifice for others and I will miss working with such a high caliber of people.

     So to the veterans of HFOT, it was an honor to serve you, and by working with you I have gained a greater appreciation for life and what it means to sacrifice for others. I wish you all the best and I thank you for the sacrifices you have made for all of us.


     To the friends of HFOT: You are the individuals, the companies and the organizations that stepped forward to help us, and you now number in the thousands. There are so many of you to thank, that it would be impossible to thank everyone in this letter.


     You all come in many capacities but each of you have been an integral and vital part of the HFOT team, and without you we could not have accomplished all that we did.


     From the volunteers who showed up at our Build Brigades and Volunteer Days, to the volunteer coordinators like Russ and Carroll Gambill in FL, and Pete and Sharon Robbins in CT, who organized great efforts for us and raised our awareness.


     From the retired contractors like Terry Curnow of Cascade, MT and Mike McGhee of Arcadia, TX, to the retired Road Warriors like Matt Febbi, Erik Freeman, Elmer Bean and Sandy Johnson who “suspended” their retirements and travelled the country for us. From the small contractors like Bill and Donna Russell of Kit Corp Homes, to the larger builders like LaCrosse Homes and the McKee Group who built us homes for little or no cost to HFOT.


     From the other non-profit organizations like: the Credit Union National Association and their bi-partisan, community spirit; to Bill Keegan and his team of first-responders at Heart 9-11, who provided us with passionate labor; to Karen Guenther and her wonderful group at the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, who supported us with much needed funding.


     From the small contractors and suppliers like PJ Kennedy & Sons and Clifford and Galvin, to larger companies like Fypon and Simonton Windows, who supported us before we even had our first home built.


     From the trade unions like the New England Carpenters Union, the Colorado and St. Paul Building Trades and the elevator unions, to the Home Builders Associations like the Hartford area HBA in CT and the Union County HBA in NC, you rallied your communities, and union and non-union labor came together, side-by-side to help us.


     From the other companies and organizations like ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, to Kristen Sands and the wonderful folks at Texas Roadhouse who supported our events with GREAT food, to Mistress Carrie and the hard rockin, hard working listeners of 107.3 WAAF out of Boston who raised much needed awareness for us.


     To everyone who helped Homes For Our Troops, despite the tough economic times that faced a majority of you in the housing industry, I want to pass along my most sincerest “Thank you!” for all you have done for HFOT and its Veterans, and for the help you have given me in the support of our mission.


     I will miss working with each and every one of you. 


     As I move forward and figure out what my next undertaking will be, I will take with me a sense of appreciation and gratitude for being given the opportunity to work with such a caring group of people… what an experience it was!


     Please feel free to keep in touch, and with so many who have helped, please feel free to pass this along to anyone I may have forgotten.


     I wish everyone success in whatever you do and hope to work with you again someday. Thank you, again, for your tremendous support!!




Kirt Rebello