In 2006, Larry S. Wright lost his home and all his possessions in a freak flood that devastated Painesville, Ohio. Larry, 73, his daughter, and granddaughter lived together, so the family had to totally start over.
Larry's daughter found a motel they could live in temporarily, and then, a small house that the family was able to rent. After 13 years, the owner sold the house. Larry and his family were given 60 days to find a new place to live in a market where rentals were escalating each year, and home ownership was fast becoming “an impossible dream.”
Larry was a heliarc welder for over 40 years, working in government-regulated nuclear power plants in different parts of the United States, and a member of the pipefitter's union. Prior to this, he had proudly served in the U.S. Navy, where he worked on salvage detail as a diesel engine mechanic in what was dubbed the “Dungaree Navy,” for the iconic denim trousers worn by servicemen. He then served in the reserves until 1967, when he received an honorable discharge and became an active member of the American Legion.
“We are an organization that looks out for other vets and the community,” Larry proudly explains. His American Legion post provides flu shots, meeting space, meals, senior visits, and other charitable services for veterans and members of the community.
A woman who works with Brickman King American Legion Post 336 in Painesville heard about his search for a new home and suggested he meet Sue Hale, who had a unique offer for him.
“The first time I saw Sue, she was wearing bib overalls, swinging a hammer and working her tail off, renovating a house she’d purchased. Larry says with a chuckle at the memory. “She’s a strong woman, a straight talker, and a whirlwind of energy.”
At the time, Sue was on a visit to fulfill a personal mission: to show her gratitude to US veterans by offering them superior quality housing for rent at significantly below-market rates, similar to Section 8 pricing, but without requiring a voucher to qualify. She asked Larry if he and his family wanted to move into a beautiful home that had just been completely renovated and updated—at a monthly rental price that made the offer impossible for him to refuse.
“I was so happy that Larry and his family loved the house,” Sue says. “He was helping me make my dream come true. It's my way of thanking the people who have been in the armed services and deserve our respect and gratitude.”
“Here’s a favorite story,” says Larry, “that tells you a lot about Sue. We were days away from moving into our new home, and none of the new appliances from the home improvement center had been delivered by the scheduled date. When Sue got on the phone, she was told that they were all on backorder. Without missing a beat, she immediately called the president of a home improvement center, and I have no idea what she said, but all those appliances were quickly delivered,” he recounts with admiration.
“What she has done for my family and me has shown an appreciation that I never expected, or even knew was possible, for a job I was proud to do for my country,” Larry says. “I plan on living here for the rest of my life.” Sue makes sure Larry's home is well-maintained for him and his family. For Christmas, she sent him an American flag and holder, which he displays in his front yard.