When Leonor Trebilcock walked in the front door, she started shaking and crying.
She, her husband, U.S. Army Specialist Matthew Trebilcock and their three children arrived at their new home on Thursday afternoon. They walked through the clean, empty house, admiring the brightly colored bedroom walls and the spacious kitchen.
But unlike other homeowners in their Homestead suburb, the Trebilcock family never has to worry about a mortgage. The home was donated, mortgage free, from Chase Bank. The national nonprofit Building Homes for Heroes modified the house to fit Trebilcock’s needs as a wounded veteran.
Matthew Trebilcock spent two tours of duty in Iraq, driving heavy machinery through indirect fire. He came home with multiple awards, including the Iraq Campaign Medal with three stars, two Army Commendation Medals and a Global War of Terrorism Service medal, among others.
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But he also returned with medical issues ranging from PTSD and major depressive disorder to back and knee injuries.
The home has new flooring, lighting, safety grab bars in the master bath and along the staircase, as well as homey touches like a bathroom hand towel that reads “Don’t worry, bee happy.”
The family is happy.
“To not have to worry about where I’m going to have my family — it’s incredible,” Matthew Trebilcock told reporters.
They plan to move into the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home on Friday. Property records peg the assessed value of the home in 2015 at around $150,000.
The Homestead house is one of about 50 that Building Homes for Heroes will work on this year, said James Rogers, Southeast regional representative for the organization. The nonprofit will donate 33 homes and modify another 17.
Veterans apply to the program, and, if approved by the organization’s New York-based board of directors, a house is selected in the veteran’s area of choice.
“We always put a veteran in a home they want to live in,” Rogers said.
The Trebilcock family closed on the house Thursday morning, which Leonor called “a dream come true.”
As she walked through the upstairs bedroom, Leonor ran her hands along the freshly painted walls. Bright pink, for her young daughter, lime green for her teenage son and a soothing blue for her and her husband.
“We wanted light — good vibes — to help us get through the darkness,” she said. “Seeing all these guys happy as they are ... it’s great.”
If you'd like to volunteer, contact Info@BuildingHomesforHeroes.org or 407-803-5398
Donations may be sent to Building Homes for Heroes, 65 Roosevelt Ave., Suite 105, Valley Stream, NY 11581