MALTA — The day after the country mourned the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a 42-year-old Army veteran was gifted a three-bedroom home in the Solomon Organization’s Malta Gardens residential community.
The once-dilapidated property on Lakeside Avenue was donated by the Solomon Organization to the Malta Veterans Appreciation Program, who then coordinated a year-long all-volunteer renovation before giving the property to Jeremy Tobin, a married father of five who’s disabled.
“I understand it, but I don’t at the same time,” said Tobin, an active duty National Guardsman following the 9/11 attacks.
“My family goes back a long ways in the military, so obviously it was just something that I was going to do anyway. But something like this is amazing. I can’t believe this,” said Tobin, also a recipient of the Army Service Medal.
Tobin, who said he had mental health challenges associated with his military service, and dating to his childhood, had been renting an apartment in Ballston Spa.
At the ceremony on Sunday, Tobin held his one-year-old son William, and stood next to his other children: Cailean, 18, Phoenix, 16, Ravyn, 14, and Jeremy Jr., 5.
His wife, Sarah, was in tears.
“They’re the ones that deserve it,” Tobin said of his family. “For me, it’s about them. For me, I’m glad that a positive choice that I made in my life a while ago has paid off to be able to provide for my family now.”
His wife of nearly 10 years added: “I’m overwhelmed by everything.”
The Malta Veterans Appreciation Program, the five-year-old nonprofit organization that provides charitable support services to local vets in Saratoga County, oversaw hundreds of volunteers, including local union contractors, organizations and businesses. Curtis Lumber donated thousands of dollars in materials, as did Pregent Paving and County Waste.
Renee Farley, president of Malta Veterans Appreciation Program, said about $45,000 in materials was donated. Including volunteers hours, Farley said it was probably a $200,000 job.
“There was literally nothing left, accept for the frame,” Farley said of the property’s original condition. The rear of the property had been open to the elements. Also, all of the rotted floor joists were replaced.
“We worked throughout the winter with no heat week after week with 100% volunteers,” she said.
The Tobin family will move in Monday, free of charge, by Moving Made Easy, Farley said.
Speaking on behalf of state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who had another commitment, Rayan Aguam, director of community relations for Tedisco, said the senator believes that it shouldn’t take a medical, mental health or financial crisis for people to step in and help service personnel.
“I’m heartened today to see everyone who’s here to help welcome the Tobin family into their new home,” Aguam said. “I’m in awe of the list of names and organizations of those who donated time, resources, expertise and planning to make today’s donation a reality. A not so small Army made today possible.”
State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, said, “I can’t really think of any more profound way to say thank you to veterans who have served our nation so honorably than to make sure that each one has a quality home to lay their head down every night.”
Ron Simoncini of the Solomon Group, which has 70 apartment complexes in 11 states, said the company started Solomon Salutes in 2008 to welcome back veterans from their foreign service who might need a home to get readjusted to civilian life.
“Sometimes we’re providing housing, sometimes we’re discounting it and sometimes, as in this case, we provided the lot and access to a home that needed a lot of love, and certainly Rene and the rest of the folks that you see here, and all the folks that are being recognized and more provided that.”
Farley noted that the Malta Veterans Appreciation Program has noticed that veterans typically won’t ask for help. Because of that the organization has been going door to door or asking neighbors to locate needy vets.
Farley said the organization finished a roof replacement of a veteran’s home on Lakeside Avenue last week, and elsewhere in the neighborhood, it located a female veteran who’s in need of a handicap ramp.
She said the organization’s offerings can be as simple as supplying groceries or repairing frozen pipes during winters.