Reporting Bill Hudson
DELANO, Minn. (WCCO) – The former resident at 136 Shadywood Lane in Delano, Minn., was a victim of the nation’s housing collapse.
Now, this once bank-owned property is a proud symbol of recovery, as it was the the first Minnesota home donated to Operation Homefront’s Homes for Veterans program.
The program is designed to help America’s most deserving and needy veterans with home ownership.
Holding an over-sized cardboard cutout of a key, Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Jon Campbell said, “so here you go guys, there’s your key to your new house.”
Sgt. Jeremy Aebly spent five years in active duty and deployment to Kuwait during operation Iraqi Freedom. When the couple signed up for the “Homes on the Homefront” program, they never dreamed of a mortgage-free home.
“It’s such a huge blessing,” he said.
His wife, Alison, is beyond appreciative.
“The bottom line is it’s not something we necessarily could have done by ourselves right now,” she said.
Stepping inside for the first time, they found a house completely refurbished. For the kids came the discovery of a large finished basement, followed by making dibs on bedrooms.
“It’s a bit hard to take in,” Jeremy said. “This is a huge deal. It literally just floored us.”
Partnering with Wells Fargo helps make the veterans home-ownership program possible. Campbell said the company will invest more than $30 million this year to help with veterans jobs, education and the Homes on the Homefront program.
“For somebody, it made all the difference,” Campbell said. “And this is an example for us today where it made all the difference for this family. And we’re just happy we could do a little bit.”
Still, there was one more surprise to come through the door. Minnesota Wild team mascot Nordy handed over tickets for the Nov. 15 game, which will pay tribute to veterans.
“It’s very humbling,” Alison said.