A veteran of the United States Marines who was left homeless when his house burned down earlier this year was given the Christmas gift of a lifetime in the form of a brand new tiny house.
The Associated Press reported that Hoy M. Young Jr.’s house burned to the ground on September 22, and he managed to escape with little more than his life and a lungful of smoke.
“For a week after the fire, I was kind of hoarse,” he said.
Young signed up for the Marine Corps. in the early 1970s, as the Vietnam War was winding down.
“I’ve always loved my country,” he explained. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”
Young spent the next eight years serving in the Marines, overseas for a few years before ending his military career stationed at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
After leaving the military in 1979 once he’d attained the rank of staff sergeant, Young returned to his home state of West Virginia and established FedEx shipping centers in various towns. All went well for Young for a long time until he started suffering from various health problems in recent years, including multiple strokes and a heart attack. Things got even worse when he lost his home in the fire.
“I lived here 14 years — longer than I’ve lived in one place anytime in my life,” Young said as he stood where his house once was.
Neighbors became worried about Young a few days after the fire when they realized that he was still living on the property where his home was, sheltering in the cab of his truck. They gave him a tent once they learned that he had no intention of moving, and a local minister later upgraded this tent to a travel trailer.
Over the next few months, good samaritans in the community stepped up to help Young, bringing the veteran jugs of drinking water and a portable restroom, since there was no electricity or running water.
As all of this was happening, Jesse Boggs, founder of Vision Appalachia, a faith-based community assistance and development organization, had taken ownership of a partially completed tiny house. The house had been started as a veterans’ outreach project at Robert Morris University, but it had been languishing in a warehouse for nearly two years.
“With help from doctors John Stakeley and Marcel Minutolo at Robert Morris, we were commissioned by the university to complete this tiny home with the condition that a deserving veteran would receive it,” said Boggs, a retired minister.
After talking to Young, Boggs decided that he was the perfect person to give the tiny house to, and Vision Appalachia’s board of directors agreed.
“Our goal was to have the tiny home finished and ready to move into by Christmas,” Boggs said.
The home was towed to Young’s property earlier this month, and Boggs was there to hand over the keys to him.
“A lot of veterans of the Vietnam era say ‘Welcome home’ when they greet each other, since they didn’t get much of a welcome when they first came home,” Boggs said as he walked Young to the doorway. “So, welcome home, buddy. Here’s your new home.”
Young was left speechless by this incredible act of kindness.
“I don’t know what to say,” Young said. “It’s beautiful. I’ve never seen so much kindness in all my life.”
“God loves you,” Boggs said. “That’s why we’re here.”