If we have learned anything from the Homes for Heroes reviews we receive from the heroes who use our local specialists and the services they provide, it’s that gratitude is contagious. The gratitude we express through our Hero Rewards® savings comes back to us in the flurry of thanks we receive from our heroes. We collect these comments and read through them every week. The file is called “The Gold” and we publish excerpts from it every week on our social profiles. There are so many stories buried in Homes for Heroes reviews so we decided to assemble this compilation so you could experience a bit of what your fellow heroes have experienced with us.
International Women’s Day is a blessing and curse. It’s a blessing to recognize these heroes and a curse that they aren’t household names. If you recognize some of these names, consider yourself enlightened. If not, we have found some great stories about women heroes who have contributed to their country, their field of study, and often, both.
We chose to highlight these women because they represent the six heroes groups that we serve at Homes for Heroes. During our search, we found so many more.
Homes for Heroes started in the aftermath of the tragedies of September 11, 2001 with the goal to serve every hero in the nation with their housing needs. On the eve of our 20th anniversary, we have hit an impressive milestone towards that goal. In October 2021, we have hit the 50,000 heroes served mark. Read More “Homes for Heroes Celebrates 50,000 Heroes Served”
Minneapolis, Minnesota is home to a Level 1 trauma burn center at Hennepin Healthcare. It is home to the nation’s first dedicated first responder and pediatric burn healing center. Along with enormous effort by Firefighters for Healing, the Homes for Heroes Foundation was honored to contribute to the Transitional Healing Center.
The non-profit Firefighters for Healing broke ground on May 19th, 2021 for a 12-suite facility as part of a larger mixed-use commercial and residential building. The Homes for Heroes Foundation kicked off the fundraising efforts with a $100,000 donation for the naming rights to one of the 12 suites.
Jake LaFerriere, Executive Director and also the Founder of Firefighters for Healing, was a second generation Minneapolis firefighter. Jake was severely burned on duty in 2010 and needed long-term transitional care.
“Firefighters for Healing provides support and resources for burn survivors, firefighters and first responders in ways insurance companies and caregivers are unable.” LaFerriere said of the mission of Firefighters for Healing. “So we kind of fill in the gaps where those gaps are. Whether that’s housing, whether that’s pediatric healing with our burn camp, whether that’s patient contact, boots on the floor at the hospital helping these families, bringing them stuff they don’t have because their house burned down. Gas cards, food, all those kind of things.”
Through his stay at Hennepin Healthcare, he met numerous burn victims and their families, and came to understand the desperate need for such a facility. As far as creating a facility, it took longer than Jake would have liked to locate the ideal spot.
“Well, when you stack rank the factors off the get go, it has to be proximity. You have to be close for these parents and these patients and survivors. They’re not going to leave the beds of their injured child if it’s too far away. They’re going to just stay there.” Jake said of the search for the perfect location.
“So, we needed to map out essentially a three block radius of the hospital, and then we literally went to every possible, potential opportunity and talked to building owners and developers, and then we ended up, after four years of being told “no”, with George [Sherman]. So, our hopes are to have skyway connectivity. What that means then is our families won’t need to go outside and deal with the elements of the cold.”
Sherman Associates is the property development company who had a property in the proximity. But, they also shared in the vision of Firefighters for Healing. CEO of Sherman Associates George Sherman also spoke at the groundbreaking of the positive impact a facility like this will make on Minneapolis.
Firefighters for Healing currently has 5 similar apartments blocks away from Hennepin Healthcare. The new Healing Center would consist of 12 fully furnished suites just two blocks away.
These units are to be used by the families of burn patients to stay long term. The center will host families from across the upper Midwest, and will offer amenities like full kitchens and laundry. The floor will have shared spaces, like therapy rooms and relaxation spaces. All of this is at no charge to the families or the patients.
“The burn center is going to have a fabulous way to help the families of these burn victims who need places to stay, who really run into trouble when they have to drop everything they’re doing to attend to their loved ones here that are coming into the burn center.” Robert Specht, Chief Financial Officer at Homes for Heroes and Board Member of the Homes for Heroes Foundation, said of the groundbreaking.
“The Homes for Heroes Foundation is making a significant contribution to this. We are sponsoring and paying for one of the 12 burn center units, that the victims will stay in and be able to be with their family. They’ll have things like local firefighters come in and cook meals. It’s really a win-win, and this is what Homes for Heroes and The [Homes for Heroes] Foundation is all about. Everything we do is based on this mission and cause.”
Grants and donations provided by the Homes for Heroes Foundation are made possible by their Circle of Giving. Their network of real estate professionals are also committed to providing savings to hero groups like firefighters and first responders.
Amy Carlson, Director of Operations and Communications for the Hennepin Healthcare Foundation, explains that burn injuries can be different from other injuries when healing.
“The injuries of a burn are more complicated than other types of injuries, particularly when children are involved. You can imagine the scarring that a child receives from a burn and the physiological impact, the social impact that they’ll be dealing with the rest of their lives.” Carlson said of this type of injury.
“To be able to see themselves in not only their physician who has his own burn scars and Jake who has his, but to come to this transitional healing center and be with other family members, in addition to firefighters, to be there and to have this opportunity for lodging to be close to a loved one, to see other people who are going through the same struggle, I’m sure will help with families and their loved ones with healing and the opportunity to understand they’re not alone.”
Homes for Heroes Foundation is committed to the healing of our firefighters and first responders. There is healing that needs to be done beyond what a doctor or hospital can provide. This is where the Healing Center comes in, covering what insurance and doctors can not.
2022 Progress Report
Things moved along on the healing center extremely well and we wanted to share with you some updates. Here are a few videos and photos that Firefighters for Healing @FF4Healing shared on Twitter to provide on the scene updates!
Today we walked through the construction site of our Transitional Healing Center. Words will never convey the gratitude we have for all who have donated, sponsored or volunteered. We had BIG dreams to serve more families in this way and that will soon be a beautiful reality. ♥️ pic.twitter.com/WGVWt3PNVX
January 18th, 2023 was declared Jake LaFerier Day in Minneapolis, the same day the Healing Center had its grand opening at Hennepin Healthcare. Jake LaFerriere, Executive Director and Founder of Firefighters for Healing, was severely burned on duty in 2010 and needed long term transitional care. The Healing Center was his idea.
The Homes for Heroes Foundation has pledged one hundred thousand dollars to the Healing Center, and has a suite named after it. The Homes for Heroes Suite will provide a comfortable and safe place for the families of injured first responders and patients who have been discharged. The center gives them a place to make a transition before heading home.
Firefighters for Healing broke ground on May 19th, 2022 for this 12-suite facility.
Patients and their families will occupy the suites beginning in February 2023.
Here is a look inside the new facility before the official opening:
By: S.L. Blackwell, Minneapolis Police (ret) and Homes for Heroes Hero Outreach Coordinator
Every year in early May, America’s Law Enforcement community comes together in Washington D.C. to say good bye and honor the lives and memories of Police Officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice while under the uniform and badge of their community. None of them planned on their last day at work being their last day with their friends and loved ones, but the choice wasn’t theirs. Read More “It’s Police week again…..now we can cry”
There are few instances in history that have such a tremendous ripple effect on society and culture as the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech that Martin Luther King Jr delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Fifty-five years later, the legendary anaphora of “I have a dream” echoes throughout our classrooms, our streets, and in our movements and marches for freedom and equality; Martin Luther King Jr’s spirit and dream is still alive today.