Doug Estand smiled as he showed pictures of his younger self growing up in Orland Park when the population was about 650 people.
“I have literally lived my entire life here,” said Estand, a veteran of the United States Army.
Estand showed the pictures to several people standing in his Orland Park house, several of whom he met that morning in late September. There was Bill Johnson, president of Homes4Heroes, a New Lenox-based effort that repairs and refurbishes veterans’ homes for physical needs brought on by service. There was also Palos Heights resident Bob Sneddon, from the Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church, who came with several other church volunteers to strip paint off the Estands’ home. Two weeks later, staff from Jondec Painting in Tinley Park came with gallons of paint and other materials donated by SouthTown Paint and Wallpaper in Orland Park to repaint the house.
“I’m speechless and overwhelmed,” Estand said, when asked about the people fixing up his house. “I can’t be thankful enough.”
Just two days before his house was painted, Estand had a malignant tumor removed from his esophagus. Doug and his wife Rosemary were unable to make the needed repairs themselves, and couldn’t afford to hire contractors. The Estands got notice from the village that if repairs weren’t made, they could face code violations. That was about the time Johnson got word of their situation.
“We tend to focus on handicap accessibility,” Johnson said, about Homes4Heroes. “But above all, we want veterans to live comfortably in their homes.”
Johnson started spreading word about the Estands’ situation. Staff at Orland Township got in touch with Palos Park Presbyterian. Jondec and SouthTown soon followed as well.
The church team had planned a Serving Our Neighbors weekend, where about 270 volunteers traveled to 26 different homes in Palos, Orland Park and other towns to help with home improvement projects.
“We have sent people outside our area to help for years, such as after Hurricane Katrina,” Sneddon said, who managed the SON weekend. “But this time, we wanted to serve our neighbors. It’s easier to give than receive.”
Work continued on the Estands’ home throughout weekends in October. On a day when rain threatened the efforts, staff from Jondec took storm windows back to their Tinley Park location at 17243 Odell Ave. to finish painting them.
“Seeing all these groups come together is amazing,” Doug Estand said. “They all came in our time of need.”