Oct. 27—By Ayanna Eckblad
Friday marked a special day for the Chapman House of Albert Lea as they began their newest project: renovating two office spaces for two veterans working in the southern Minnesota area.
The Chapman House, founded by Kevin Chapman, began in Texas, later moving on to South Carolina and, eventually, to Minnesota.
"We take our direction from the VA hospitals, and they sort of correspond with us as to where veterans need help," Chapman said. Since its beginning, the organization has helped hundreds of veterans find affordable housing.
"In southern Minnesota, it turns out that there (are not) a lot of resources available that you might find, maybe, in Minneapolis or St. Paul," Chapman said. "This is good not only for veterans, but it's good for Albert Lea. It's great for the community."
The organization is partnering with Home Depot for materials and volunteer work.
"It's wonderful to partner with them on all these projects," he said.
Aaron Mangan, store manager of Albert Lea's Home Depot, said Home Depot is based on the culture of giving back to communities.
"So any time we have the opportunity to come out and help with something like this, it's always great," he said.
Albert Lea Mayor Rich Murray began the morning's work by thanking those who donated their time to the Chapman House. He also explained that the organization's work is meaningful to him as he is a veteran himself.
Following Murray's opening speech, Mangan led the group in the "Home Depot Cheer." Afterward, the work began. The house, garage and yard became flooded with people wearing work clothes and orange T-shirts. Ten Home Depot stores in the Minnesota-Iowa area were represented amongst the volunteers.
The Chapman House also teamed up with local business, Jacobson Construction and Design LLC of New Richland. Tyler Jacobson, a contractor, has been working with Chapman for about eight months. Jacobson explained that the end result of these renovations will eventually be three properties available for veterans to move into.
In addition to Home Depot and Jacobson Construction and Design LLC, Subway of Albert Lea provided support for this project by catering the event.
Chapman expressed his gratitude for everyone involved with making this renovation a success. "We're thrilled to be here in Albert Lea, and working with the city ... has been wonderful," he said. "None of this would've been possible had it not been for the City Council, the city management — they've been terrific to work with. It's a great city."