SAN ANTONIO – Retired Army Sgt. Mathew Sheffel spent 12 years of his life serving this country in the military.
He was medically retired after suffering debilitating injuries to his shoulder. But the real pain for Sheffel was returning from his final 15-month tour in Iraq to find his marriage broken.
His wife had been raising their quadruplets, then 3 years old, Landon, Kole, Kailey and Alyssa, and their 7-year-old sister, Lindsey.
Sheffel was in shock.
"She said to me, 'I have taken care of them for the last two or three years, and it's your turn to take care of them,'" Sheffel said.
Sheffel said they became the most important thing in the world to him.
But times were tough, and he couldn't find a home.
"Everywhere I turned to try to get financial help or assistance, I just kept getting shot down every which way," Sheffel said.
He contacted the local organization Operation Homefront for help. They immediately helped him sign up for the program "Homes on the Homefront," which matches needy military service members with homes donated by banks.
Operation Homefront's Amy Palmer said there's a great need for homes in the Alamo City.
"San Antonio is such a needed community for homes because of all the wounded warriors in this community, so to find a home in San Antonio is a rare treat," Palmer said.
While praying for a miracle and hoping for a home, Sheffel took the only shelter he could find: a tiny cabin in rural Victoria, accessible only by boat. The cabin was so small and in such a remote area, it was not suitable for the children. He knew he would lose custody of his children if he couldn't find a better home.
He said his prayers were answered.
On July 13, Operation Homefront put the family up at a suite in the JW Marriott. They were told it was a weekend retreat to give the family a chance to be together in a safe and fun environment.
It was really a chance to surprise them with the news they were getting a home from Bank of America.
Bank of America has donated four homes in the San Antonio area to Homes on the Homefront, and Sheffel is the first recipient.
He said he was in total shock when the Central and South Texas President Kenneth Wilson gave him the good news.
"We are giving to you and your family a house," Wilson said. "The house will fit you and your family and you deserve that for all your service to this country. It will be mortgage-free."
As the children jumped up and down and hugged their father, they were handed a giant welcome mat to be placed on their front porch with a big red, white and blue ribbon attached to it.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Sheffel said.
The home means they will stay together, and it will help provide a solid foundation on which to build their family's future.