ST. MARYS – When Homer and Carol Burnett began discussing retirement just a few years ago, sitting around the house was not one of their plans.
“We decided we should find something to do,” Carol Burnett said.
The couple decided to start Lots For Soldiers Inc. The Burnetts discussed their nonprofit organization Jan. 13 at the St. Marys Rotary Club meeting held at the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge in St. Marys.
The goal of the organization is to solicit donations or reduced-price residential lots from donors. The organization then acts as a conduit by offering affordable housing to current or former military service members.
“We founded this organization as a thank-you,” Carol said. “Sometimes, saying thank you just isn’t enough.”
The organization, based in Celina, just built its first reduced-cost home for a U.S. Navy veteran. Lots For Soldiers serves the west-central Ohio area, but could move just across the Indiana border as early as this year.
The project is expanding, as four homes will be built this year. A committee that handles the selection process received 12 applications this year. The committee has the responsibility of narrowing the field. The group will then work with local businesses, contractors and volunteers through use of their contributions or talents.
The project has three designs of homes to choose from for veterans . Through donations, the homes are offered at a much lower price that they can afford. The only catch is that accepted applicants must stay in the home at least 10 years and must be veterans with an honorable discharge or serving in the armed forces. If they leave before then, the money from the sale of the home goes back into the program.
Homer Burnett said the program is picking up quickly and that he and his wife are happy to help.
“There has been a lot of ebb and flow to what kind of support soldiers get when they come home during wars of different times,” Homer Burnett said. “We have something in place now where there is always a way to say thank you.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.