Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Preparations speeding along with new help from civilian volunteers

It's been a while since our last post yet we've had our hands full after Jay Scherder from KY3 TV in Springfield decided to do a piece on efforts to prepare Valhalla for receiving the first groups of Soldiers next spring:

After the story aired on December 8th another reporter, this time from the Baxter Bulletin's own Joanne Bratton in Mountain Home, arrived to interview us, and her article was published the next day. Then this morning we were surprised to find that her story has been reprinted here on the Army Times website.

Coon has another name but even
his business card doesn't actually
state it, he's a proud Louisiana native
with a name that suits him very well!
As a result of this first media coverage we have met many local civilians, and many veterans, who are pitching in their time, materials, and equipment to greatly speed up our progress here. 

Among them: Viet Nam veteran "Coon" - now a painter by trade - called to announce he would scrounge up some paint for both the interior and exterior of the house. Out of the blue he then showed up with gallons and gallons of it, then proceeded to commence work on the dreadful blue room with it's crazy flowers that required many hours of sanding to prep the walls for their eventual transformation.

Ed Harkreader and his son Andy demonstrating
safe techniques on the tablesaw they brought over
along with the jigsaw shown the background. Wood-
shop tools are critically needed to speed up progress
so we can meet our target of hosting the first groups
of Valhalla post-9/11 combat soldiers in the spring.

A Navy veteran, Ed Harkreader, contacted us with an offer to bring over some basic woodworking equipment to help build bed frames for the mattresses Valhalla has already acquired. Gordon and I had already managed to build the first prototype, yet unfortunately it was three inches too tall and therefore ridiculously difficult to get in and out of. Ed and his son Andy came to the rescue - we tore the bed frame apart and cut down each leg while replacing the sheets of plywood with cedar slats to support the mattress. One handmade original Valhalla-designed bed frame finished now, many more will follow! 

Marvin trimming the ends of the oversized cedar
boards to fit. We have been working with minimal
tools and equipment so having a little help from
local citizens makes a huge amount of difference.
Then local resident Marvin and his Lab, B-Dog, showed up to help construct the first raised beds for the garden. Valhalla's off-the-grid self-sustaining goals prominently include building the capacity to grow the vegetables, fruits, and berries necessary for feeding all the post-9/11 combat soldiers and war zone civilian workers who will be staying on the property.

That's a pretty tall order, and with the rocky ground here in the Ozarks, establishing raised beds has to be a top priority. We had some trouble with cutting the oversized 2x12" cedar boards so Marvin went home and returned with a chain saw that quickly solved the problem.

Enough nails for years perhaps,
thank you Dennis and Dianna!
Just a few of the literally thousands of nails - big bins of all shapes and sizes, as donated by Dennis and Dianna Marquis (who were also behind making sure that the infamous Valhalla Marquis Wet Room project would become a reality) - sure came in handy when building the raised bed gardening frames. We have bins and buckets of bags of nails that will be pressed into use in the coming years as Soldiers and war zone civilian workers design and build their own a series of cabins around the property.

Just some of the many pretty
curtains made by Debbie
Garrison-Deters hanging on the

new curtain rods that Marvin
helped us to put up. Thank you 
so much Debbie for all the hours
you put into this sewing project!
Many other sets helping hands have filled the month of December, and in some surprising ways. Debbie Garrison-Deters from nearby Harrison pitched in by sewing many pairs of curtains to help make Valhalla a more comfortable place to stay (if you need any sewing done then you can contact Debbie on Facebook here), and Marvin came back to help put up the many curtain rods around the house to hang them. 

Lindy Benitz - the mastermind behind the timber party that resulted in all the firewood burned here at night to help keep the house warm, and who's family also donated Valhalla's very first two beds for the bunkhouse - habitually pops in with critical essentials: a shower bench for the wetroom and a special bedroom commode chair for anyone with physical challenges who might need one - as well as country living advice, reference books and instructive magazines of all kinds.

The local people here in the Ozarks are - as a group - huge supporters of the men and women who have sacrificed all and regularly put their lives on the line to help make the world a safer place. While they do not have much to give during these hard times, the mountain communities and people here always seem to find a way to pitch in and honor those serving our great nation. Valhalla will indeed be ready by the spring with such heartfelt assistance!

An unusual "volunteer"

Chippy in the moments just before he decided to make a run
for it down the side of the fireplace, where he was unpleasantly
intercepted by Joker the cat (click the photo to enlarge).

This tiny chipmunk got into the house and Joker the cat thought he was trying to volunteer himself for dinner! Chippy made a break for it, Joker leaped about 10 feet and caught him... we made him spit Chippy out and then threw him out the back door to safety. He survived - we saw him running as fast as he could into the woods, so he's OK!

Our IRS application for nonprofit status is being processed, 
yet you can still donate to help Valhalla today!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Thank you for the plug for my sewing. Just let me know when Chris wants to set up the first sewing lesson . That ought to be a blast. You guysare awesome...I thank you for what you are doing for our military..Helping them adjust back into civilian life. God Bless this awesome undertaking....Debbie