Former first responders build home for veteran - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Former first responders build home for veteran

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First responders help rebuild home for veteran in East Windsor (WFSB) First responders help rebuild home for veteran in East Windsor (WFSB)

Giving back to those who gave so much...That's exactly what a group of first responders and volunteers vowed to do in the aftermath of Sept. 11th.

The organization Heart 9/11 has brought their team to East Windsor to rebuild a home for a local veteran.

"People came from all over the country, all over the world, to help us out,” said project manager John Viola, of Heart 9/11.

Viola is a retired captain from the FDNY, and left work in the early hours of Sept. 11 to go home to take care of his wife who wasn’t feeling well.

"I wound up going home that morning, and the whole fire house I said goodbye to ... I said goodbye for the last time,” Viola said.

He lost 14 men from his fire house that day.

Once the emergency relief efforts were complete at Ground Zero, "We decided it was time to start paying back the rest of the country, so we created Heart 9/11 from the ashes of the World Trade Center."

Heart 9/11 was founded back in 2007. The team is comprised of first responders who bonded in the aftermath of the tragedy.

They respond to natural and man-made disasters with one mission in mind – helping communities and families in need.

"We've been to a lot of different counties, we've done a lot of work in Haiti ... but our real passion is helping wounded veterans,” said FDNY Lt. James Earl.

The group is now working on a home in East Windsor.

They’re rebuilding a house for a veteran who spent 19 years in the U.S. Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Every place we go, we try and reach out to the first responders in the area,” Earl said.

Members of the Newtown Police Department are assisting with the build.

They've been working closely with Heart 9/11 for a few years and they say it's because of them, “we able to move forward, past sandy hook, and return to work,” said Newtown Police Sgt. Scott Ruszczyk.

"They came in and they were instrumental with helping us get back together, get back on track, get our lives back in order,” said Newtown Officer Felicia Figol.

Interior work is already underway, and volunteers were stopping by the site on Main Street all day Tuesday.

"But, fortunately, I assure you -- we're better police officers than we are construction workers,” Ruszczyk said.

For those assisting with the project, they say they can’t wait for the keys to the finished house to be handed over to the homeowner.

They add there’s no better feeling than helping someone who risked their life to protect our country.

"I think it heals us all because we can all be healed a little,” Earl said.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of November.

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