Jerry Monson is a 67 year old Vietnam Army Veteran. He was an auto mechanic and ran his own small repair garage until health challenges forced his retirement five years ago. With his 40 year old mobile home and lot paid for, he was getting by on his $734 monthly social security check, but needed a little help fixing his leaking roof. He applied for a federally funded weatherization program and qualified for their help. But instead of repairing his roof it got considerably worse, to the point his home is no longer livable.
As a 13-year old, Jerry’s new step father would not let him live at home. He moved to live voluntarily with John and Jan Gillespie in their small rural farm house. Jerry was a good boy and big brother to the Gillespie’s first son, three-year old Steven.
Space was a problem and the Gillespie’s were looking for a larger home they could rent and that search resulted in finding a very large home in the New London area. The move allowed them to take in more teenagers and became the Rawhide Boys Ranch. Jerry was the catalyst for a program that has helped thousands of boys since 1965.
Now Jerry needs help. He has been battling an incurable leg rash from shortly after serving in Viet Nam. It seems to be a result of his exposure to Agent Orange. Two years ago he had surgery for a cancerous abdominal growth. During the surgery something cause a stroke resulting in months of therapy to be able to talk clearly.
He lives alone in a 40-year old mobile home on a rural Appleton lot that he owns. In 2013 he qualified for a federally funded weatherization program to fix a leak in his roof. Three workers showed up and their efforts did nothing to stop the water leaks. They actually got worse. The water damage and mold growth has made it unlivable and unrepairable, especially since Jerry is already getting medical care for a breathing problem which makes the mold a life threatening development.
Because Jerry owns his home & lot, he does not qualify for a veterans housing allowance, and is not eligible to move to one of the four veterans’ homes in the state. He has no savings. The home no longer has any value. He was getting a monthly veterans disability check but that stopped the end of May, 2014 because they determined his cancer was in remission. His total income is $734 a month from social security and $407 a month veterans disability benefit.
A Replacement Veterans Home for Jerry
Ross Giordana, President of Giordana Home Builders of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, was contacted by John Gillespie, President of the 1776 American Dream charity, asked if there was a way to build Jerry a house for half the normal cost. Ross agreed to contact a couple dozen of his sub-contractors to see if they would help. They all agreed to join the Jerry Team and work at discounts or complete donations.
In the fall of 2015 construction started and four months later Jerry moved into his new 1,200 square foot, three bedroom, two bath home. Total cost for materials was less than 40-thousand dollars. About 1/3 of the regular cost.
Grateful for the wonderful support, Jerry has set up a trust so that at his death or if the property is sold for any reason, 40-thousand dollars will be given to Rawhide Boys Ranch as a memorial gift. He was the first Rawhide Boy at 13.
When Jerry was asked by a reporter what he thought waking up in his new house? his reply was, “It’s Unbelievable. But it’s not really my house. It really belongs to the dozens of donors and builders that provided it. They just let me live here and take care of it.”
For Information Contact
John Gillespie President
1776 American Dream
Direct – (920)-427-9000