Community Service

'Homes for Our Troops' Inspires Oregon CU

Program changes the lives of deserving heroes.

March 09, 2011
KEYWORDS advantis , homes , veterans
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In 2008, Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves told attendees of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) that many of the nation’s severely disabled veterans return home to living spaces that don’t accommodate their disabilities.

He appealed to credit unions to help build specially adapted homes for these veterans.

Five Advantis Credit Union board members were in the audience that day and took that message home.

The Portland, Ore., credit union was one of the first to answer Gonsalves’ call, pledging $150,000 as the title sponsor for the first two homes to be built in Oregon by Homes for Our Troops.

Homes for Our Troops
Advantis CU pledged $150,000 to sponsor the first two homes to be built in Oregon. View a photo slide show.

“We were honored to lead the charge in Oregon,” says Advantis President/CEO Ron Barrick. “It was extraordinary and heartwarming to see an entire community come together to thank and honor these veterans, donating their time and their resources. Hundreds of companies and individuals contributed to these projects.”

The Advantis-sponsored homes were donated to Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Christian Bagge and Army Specialist Kevin Pannell. Bagge and Pannell each lost both of their legs as a result of bomb blasts while serving in Iraq.

Their specially adapted homes help restore their personal independence with features such as wheelchair-accessible hallways and cabinetry, roll-in showers, and automatic door openers.

“These homes change lives,” says Barrick, “and we strongly encourage other credit unions to help continue these important projects throughout the country. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing a very deserving hero receive the keys to his new home.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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