FLORISSANT, Mo. — The old girl is what Harry McClure calls his century-old Florissant, Missouri, home.
"I bought it in 2000. The house has been here since 1900, so it’s 120 years old," said McClure.
Not surprisingly, a 120-year-old home frequently needs work. For McClure, it started with his roof.
"Every time it stormed, I worried. I worried about damage. I worried about it falling down."
Because McClure is a U.S. Army veteran, he qualified for help from the non-profit Rebuilding Together St. Louis. Gene Martino was a long-time volunteer who eventually became project manager.
"My role is to initially go through the house to determine what needs to be done in the home to keep the homeowner safe and healthy," said Martino. "We want them to stay in their home."
The mission of Rebuilding Together St. Louis is to improve the lives of low-income homeowners, especially people over 60, military veterans, and people with disabilities.
Rebuilding Together St. Louis replaced his roof, and installed a new air conditioning unit, a new water heater, and electrical panel. McClure's Army service led to more assistance than he could imagine.
"Honestly, to this day, I can't get over it," said McClure.
When asked about his military service, McClure shared his top-secret mission during the Cold War in the 1960s. St. Louis once had four Nike Hercules missile sites, including Grafton, IL where McClure was stationed.
"Our mission was to, in case of Russian bomber attack, to destroy all the bombers, not allowing any one of them to drop their ordinance," said McClure.
"Eighteen of the warheads were small nuclear devices. This had to be tip-top secret because we didn't want the local population to panic."
The Russian Cold War threat never materialized and all of the missile sites have been torn down. McClure is a retired television director, grateful for Rebuilding Together St. Louis and hopeful that other veterans will accept the non-profit's help.
"Look them up on the website. Call, email, throw your hat in the ring like me. Maybe they'll tell you 'yes'.
You can get more information at Rebuilding Together St. Louis' website.
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