After a bit of pounding or sawing, somebody in an orange T-shirt would walk out the front door and toss a little more of Rocco Tedesco’s house into a big trash bin.
Sitting in his wheelchair, Tedesco watched it all with understandable satisfaction. Each armload of discarded drywall or 2-by-4s gets him a little closer to an accessible home.
The Navy veteran said he started using a wheelchair about six years ago. It’s the result of three years of river warfare in South Vietnam from 1966-68.
“At times, I’m reasonably mobile,” Tedesco said. For him, that means getting around with the aid of arm crutches or canes.
The 73-year-old veteran summed up his three years of service as “river rat” succinctly: “Picking up people who were stranded, and trying not to get killed.”
That summary overlooks an interesting family wrinkle, Nettie Tedesco noted. Her husband was talking with a Marine veteran at a family get-together and they started comparing notes.
“One of the people Rocco saved is my brother-in-law,” Nettie said.
Eventually, “I lost a boat,” Rocco Tedesco said. “It caused problems in my back, and other things exacerbated the problem.”
Addressing a need
The remodel, which will make the home more wheelchair friendly, is a collaboration between the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center and Home Depot.
When the local nonprofit held the annual “Veterans Stand Down” event in August, Tedesco came across Roy Farris, who was representing Home Depot there.
Farris asked if there was something Tedesco needed, and the Salmon Creek resident described his home’s accessibility issues.
On Wednesday, the project started. Volunteers in orange Home Depot T-shirts did the tear-down work, setting the stage for an interior makeover.
It’s being done in conjunction with the Veterans Assistance Center in its role as a local nonprofit, said Keith Scott, the agency’s outreach director.
Farris, a department supervisor at the Home Depot near Padden Parkway and Andresen Road, said the project is part of a national program. The company observes a celebration of service, Farris said, encouraging its stores to work with nonprofits in assisting veterans who have problems with their homes.
It will add up to $85 million over the next five years across the country, Farris said.
About 10 volunteers were on the job Wednesday; about 25 will participate by the time all the finish work is done.