GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Dozens of total strangers are helping a North Carolina veteran rebuild his home after it was destroyed by a fire.
“This day means a lot to me,” said Ace Beam of Gastonia.
Beam spent four years serving the U.S. Marine Corps.
Now, dozens of volunteers with Home Depot are serving him by rebuilding his house, which was destroyed by the fire in 2015.
“They understand that these people took care of our country, they went to war for us and they came back home with absolutely nothing, so if we don’t give back, who will?” Home Depot district manager Tara Tucker said.
Beam, who is now in his 70s, was a teenager in Guam helping troops injured during the Vietnam War.
He later faced a new battle with severe depression after his house caught fire in Gastonia.
The veteran didn’t have insurance and he couldn’t afford to rebuild, so the city told him he had to tear down his badly burned home.
“They were going to charge me $8,500 to condemn it,” he explained.
Home Depot learned he was in trouble through a veterans service organization, so they put together a team of volunteers and tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild the house.
Beam said the frame of brick and wood taking shape on East Park Avenue is much more than a house. To him, it’s a home filled with memories of his parents, who lived there 20 years and are buried in the cemetery behind Beam’s house where he has hoisted military flags to pay tribute to those who served our country.
“This is mine, this is my place, my home. So if you ask me what it means now, it means more now to me than it ever did,” Beam said.
Volunteers hope Beam will be able to move back into his home by the end of November.