Volunteers lend a helping hand to local veterans

Mercury Insurance volunteers work to saw baseboards for the kitchen of a nearly completed home in Canyon Country on Saturday. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

A group of volunteers worked tirelessly Saturday afternoon to ensure that local veterans will be able to find affordable housing in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Homes4Families, a former subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity, partnered with Mercury Insurance to host a “teambuild” in the master-planned, veteran community off Centre Pointe Parkway in Canyon Country.

“We host teambulids to keep the homes affordable for the veteran community,” said Director of Corporate and Community Engagement Donielle De Leon.

Over the past three years the charity has built 78 housing units in the development, all of which are owned by military veterans. In addition to the Santa Clarita project, Homes4Families is currently constructing 56 homes in Palmdale and 12 in North Hollywood, said De Leon.

The group typically fits these developments with amenities like parks, green belts, and community centers to foster a sense of sense of unity among the families.

Homes4Families services to the veteran community, however, are more profound than merely the material.

The charity offers many what De Leon calls “wrap-around services,” which help reintegrate service members into civilian life.

These services include traumatic brain injury programing, music, art and drum therapy, and “mommy or daddy and me” classes. Homes4Families is also partnered with both UCLA and Citibank to offer veterans free courses in financial literacy.

Satuday’s teambuild was the final iteration of the year for the employees at Mercury Insurance, who have already participated in five of these events since January.

“Today we’re building homes for veterans which is so near and dear to our hearts,” said Mercury Insurance Senior Employee Relations Specialist Liz Romero.

Romero, a Stevenson Ranch resident, spoke highly of her fellow employees’ dedication to the project.

Of the 50 Mercury employees who contributed to the event, “most of them (came) from as far out as Rancho Cucamonga, Orange County and Brea,” she said. “Only about 5 of us are from Santa Clarita.”

At most charity events it is typical for Mercury to have approximately 25 employees contribute; but the opportunity to aid veterans served as the catalyst to nearly double this number.

“I’ve been a Santa Clarita resident for 30 years. This is my home and I’m so proud.” Romero said of the community service event. 

“This is the meaning of ‘teambuild.’ We’re building relationships and we’re together working hard, giving back, supporting those who served our country.”

Mercury Insurance employees work help install pipes in the backyard of a soon-to-be veteran home. Ryan Painter/The Signal.
Nearly 50 volunteers break for lunch before resuming work on veteran housing in Canyon Country on Saturday. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

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