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Recycled materials help solve veteran housing crisis

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Approximately 40 miles northeast of campus sits the small town of Whitewright.

From local churches to the neighborhood Dollar General, it’s a town far removed from the growing city of Frisco.

I think people need to be able to own their home and have that opportunity,”

— veteran Jim Davidson

With a population of just 1,600 residents, Whitewright is typical of small town Texas where the local Dairy Queen is a place to get a bite to eat and a community hang out.

But around the corner from this Dairy Queen in Whitewright, there’s something special going on that could change the fate of homeless veterans in North Texas.

Here on this 2.4 acre piece of property, Davidson is embarking on a project that combines the tiny home fad with recycled materials to solve a housing crisis plaguing former military members.

“There are thousands right now that are in need in Texas, and what we’re doing is working with a group out in San Antonio that’s helping them with job trades and also with healthcare, mental and physical,” assistant golf coach Adam Davidson said. “We are the third pillar of that housing, and so our goal is to start small. Our purpose is to hire and house veterans. So, next year we are raising money so we can hire six to nine veterans offer them jobs, but also we want to provide houses for 20, and then we’ll grow from there. The most important thing about it is my dad. I mean with all the combat missions and different things he’s done as a veteran, to all the veterans, but to my dad, he’s he’s a true American hero, so it adds value to the project.”

Davidson’s father is a disabled veteran himself who hopes to make the transition from active military life to civilian life a little bit easier for veterans.

provided by Adam Davidson
The beginning stages of the process of creating homes for veterans using recycled material.

“It, it’s very personal,” veteran Jim Davidson said. “When Adams, my son, decided to do this project,  he’s been involved in different businesses for a long time. This became kind of the outstanding project to look at, you know, the one that meant more to us, and definitely me. We plan on providing jobs in creating these homes and buildings. If you’re truly what we call war fighters and you’re actually in combat, it’s difficult sometimes. That’s why you have so many people that have issues with PTSD. I think the transition comes with the being involved in different programs to help them talk out their problems and stuff. But I think this will help because it could provide them with some security, some place to live, and also the program will allow them to purchase these at much reduced rate and cost and they can have their own place. And I think people need to be able to own their home and have that opportunity.”  

Working as a missionary prior to joining the “Rebuilding Our Heroes” organization Michael Emerson works to achieve the same goal.

“As a missionary, your focus, your commitment is to helping others,” former missionary Michael Emerson said. “There are many missionaries out there. They run orphanages, or distribute food. In my case, I built centers, I built training centers, I built support structures for our mission. And now building homes for our veterans, very similar, very connected. You’re building your hands. You’re creating something that fills a need, but it also fills a calling. It’s not just for money, you’re not just out there building something for a paycheck. You’re doing it because of the cause, and that is so much more valuable than a paycheck. It  gives you a great feeling of accomplishment, and it gives you a feeling of purpose. I think as humans we want that, right, there’s a part of us that wants to be part of something important, part of something great, part of something very meaningful. When you are laying down and thinking of your days, and you look back in life, it’s not about a bank account. It’s about purpose, a calling. I’ve got one, we’ve got one, this is one.”

But this one is a bit different in that it’s using using biodegradable materials.

If I had served and risked my life and gone through hardship, and I came home and didn’t even have a house, that would be extremely damaging to me emotionally and physically in every way,”

— former missionary Michael Emerson

“This started five years ago,” Adam Davidson said. “We were working with some biodegradable materials, taking corn stover, a byproduct of corn and harvest, impressive board. Then it led to waste metal, which is we’re doing galvanized steel. Waste metal is overpopulating the globe, and that led to looking at recycled, biodegradable, or reclaimed materials which led us to the container homes. They loved the home. These can go anywhere. There’s some land positions by Canyon Lake, somewhere around Houston, somewhere around Dallas where they’re giving the lots to Rebuilding our Heros, and so we can we can ship these homes, and set them up in less than a day.”

The usage of recycled materials works not only to benefit veterans but the environment as well.

“You know that’s important to everybody,” Jim Davidson said. “I’m not a green freak by any means, but I do believe in protecting God’s resources, you know wood, and lumber, and everything. This recycled steel is everywhere. We have more steel laying around in the world than almost anything else because nobody is using it, so these make a lot of sense. I mean if you don’t need to use it, don’t use it that way we can protect mother nature, the country, and the world.”  

As work on this project continues, Emerson believes the impact of their mission will have far reaching effects.

“I just feel very honored to be part of it,” Emerson said. “You know, I believe that our life is guided by a divine force and it connects us, connects people. And I feel very honored and blessed to be able to be part of Jim and Adam’s vision and goal, to be able to be part of a calling of this caliber of this worth helping people, helping heroes who have helped us who have served us. I tried to put myself in their position. If I had served and risked my life and gone through hardship, and I came home and didn’t even have a house, that would be extremely damaging to me emotionally and physically in every way. So it’s a huge honor for me to be able to work with Jim and Adam and to be a part of this. I feel it’s a calling, and that gives me great worth and that gives me great content and very proud to be part of something so great.”

About the Contributor
Neha Perumalla, WTV Executive Producer

Neha Perumalla is a senior who was born in Pittsburgh, PA. She is dedicated to Wingspan, making sure every shot she takes is up to par. Even though Neha...

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