Friday, July 25, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;66.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/skc.png;2014-07-25 09:45:41

ERROR: Video is no longer available.

pic1
pic2
pic3
pic4
pic5
pic6
pic7
pic8
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Marine Cpl. Chuck Donnelly of Merrimack looks over his new kitchen Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Marine corporal Chuck Donnelly and his service dog Bailey at home in Merrimack.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Wider doorways and grab bars will make it easier for Marine Cpl. Chuck Donnelly to navigate his Merrimack home Tuesday, April 10, 2012, after being injured in Afghanistan.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Grab bars and a seat will make it easier for Marine Cpl. Chuck Donnelly to shower at his Merrimack home.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Marine Cpl. Chuck Donnelly and his wife, Kerry of Merrimack in their new kitchen Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Marine Cpl. Chuck Donnelly, his wife, Kerry and bulldog puppy, Bailey of Merrimack in their new kitchen Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    A wedding portrait is displayed in the kitchen of the Donnelly's home in Merrimack Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    The Donnelly's home in Merrimack Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Renovated home completed for injured Merrimack Marine

MERRIMACK – The wounds on Chuck Donnelly’s leg have mostly healed, but the hole in his heart remained – until Tuesday.

Donnelly, a Marine Corporal who lost part of his leg serving last year in Afghanistan, gathered Tuesday with friends, family members and veterans of all kinds to honor the completion of renovations to his Merrimack home.

The renovation project, led by a new nonprofit organization, Building Dreams for Marines, left Donnelly with a new kitchen, stairway and bathroom, among other improvements to better accommodate his medical needs.

But, more than all that, the process left him with a renewed sense of community.

“Being pulled off the battlefield was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” said Donnelly, 27, who often uses crutches to get around.

“My sense of community was ... taken from me, and it was really hard to get back. But this has filled a big piece of my heart,” he told audience members, including U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and N.H. Gov. John Lynch. “This is community.”

Donnelly, who wears a prosthetic below his knee, is the first veteran honored by the Building Dreams for Marines since it launched two years ago.

Brian Hooper, owner of MSI Mechanical Systems in Salem, founded the foundation in 2010 to help improve the lives of injured veterans, and he spent much of the next year raising funds for the non-profit group.

When it came time to select a project, Donnelly, through family and friends, was the first to apply.

“We knew what he had been through and we thought it would be a good fit,” said Hooper, who lives in Windham. “It’s worked out better than I ever imagined.”

Over the following year, more than a dozen contractors and service providers gathered to renovate Donnelly’s home. They gutted the kitchen, installing new appliances and a free-standing island. They refigured both bathrooms for easier mobility, and they widened doorways and the main stairway to accommodate a wheelchair, if necessary.

In total, the team provided about $55,000 worth of work at a cost of $12,000 – covered through private and in-kind donations, Hooper said.

“It’s been amazing. He can get around so much easier,” said Donnelly’s wife, Kerry. “It’s really made a huge difference.”

With the house finished and his formal deployment from the Marines coming at the end of the month, Chuck Donnelly will take some time to enjoy his new home. He’ll likely take some time off before he pursues a career in real estate development. “It’ll be good to have a little rest,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hooper and other Building Dreams officials are preparing to move forward with their next project. They’re planning a golf fundraiser this fall, and they’ve already accepted several applications.

“We’re hoping to get something together maybe later this year,” Hooper said.

“This is America at it’s best,” Ayotte, the U.S. Senator and Nashua native, said of the project. “Some Americans ... know it’s not just a duty we have as a government to take care of our veterans. ... You are upholding not only the best values of our country, but the best values of the U.S. Marine Corps.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.