Home Of The Brave

A Jersey town honors its wounded Iraq veteran with a place that’s truly his own.

The countertops in the Robinsons’ kitchen are lowered for Andy’s convenience.
Photo by Laura Moss.

Now, nearly three years later, his New Jersey hometown of Florence has worked around the clock to build Robinson and his wife, Sara, a house to accommodate his special needs.

The home is the third built in New Jersey by Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that provides specially designed housing for severely wounded veterans (homesforourtroops.org). With money from the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, truckloads of product and service donations, and an army of local volunteers, the house was completed in less than six months.

The Robinsons were able to select a floor plan to suit Andy’s needs. The house includes automatic doors, wide hallways, lowered kitchen and bath countertops, a roll-in shower, door levers, and an elaborate ceiling track system that can convey Andy from bedroom to bathroom and back.

Livingston-based architectural and engineering firm Jarmel Kizel designed the 2,100-square-foot house; construction was led by local builder Charles Kojeski, owner of Kojeski Construction in Voorhees. Both firms and the construction workers volunteered their services, and most of the materials were donated. Some features, such as the kitchen appliances, were purchased from funds raised by neighborhood kids with a lemonade stand. Everyone, it seems, got in on the act. Sara’s 14-year-old sister Amy sewed the window treatments in every room of the house; local council members, including the mayor, bought the front-loading washer and dryer.

The result is a charming modified ranch on a quiet residential street, down the way from a local veterans’ memorial. “It just looks so normal, you’d never know how adapted it is inside,” says Andy. “This house allows me my independence.”

The couple moved in just in time to host Thanksgiving dinner, something Sara—who loves to cook—had hoped for. “We are so grateful to our community,” she says. “It’s a really special place to live.”

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