A group of U.S. Navy recruiters based in San Antonio has pitched in to help an 80-year-old Navy veteran whose crumbling home was featured in Defenders reports in 2012.
Those stories showed Larry Ferrell’s filthy kitchen, leaky plumbing, dangerous electrical system and a bathroom in shambles.
And that was after his friends Yolie Arriaga and Amy Sanchez had cleaned up boxes and junk, even a dead dog under his bed.
"If we could have gutted it out, we would have,” Arriaga said in 2012. “We did stuff that we didn't even know was possible for us."
The Defenders contacted Adult Protective Services and the agency patched a hole in his roof.
Vonda Love and her husband offered free pest control. Others donated as well, but this summer, much more was needed.
Then, a group of Navy recruiters stepped forward after seeing the earlier stories and wanted to help. They got contractors involved and did thousands of dollars in improvements to Ferrell’s house.
Chief Petty Officer Adam Vela was one of those who pitched in.
Recently, he mowed Ferrell’s lawn, braving the heat for a fellow Navy man.
"He gave so much for us," Vela said.
He and other Navy recruiters had Hardiplank siding put on and made other improvements.
"We've done the door, we've done the inside, sir," Vela said. “We've done the sink. I believe all together it's been a total of about $5,000.”
Sonar Technician First Class John David Escovedo said he was proud to be involved because work like this allows the recruiters to become part of the community.
"It definitely makes my heart blossom when I do involve in things like this," Escovedo said.
Crystal Electric put in new outlets, switches and a ceiling fan.
That company’s work alone was worth thousands of dollars.
But owner Albert Gallegos said he did it to help the veterans.
"Service for my country because my grandfather was also in the Army, passed away, and I feel obligated to help out the veterans again," Gallegos said.
As for Ferrell, he was happy to get help from his Navy brethren.
"You got that right,” Ferrell said. “Yeah, you better believe that."
Rick Esparza from IBM of Texas, a general contractor, also donated labor and materials to make Ferrell's house more livable.