MORTONS GAP, Ky. (FOX 56) – Close to 331,000 veterans call Kentucky home, but more than 40,000 of them face housing issues. For some veterans, those issues include basic repairs to a home, but for others, it means a new home.
Anthony Burrow was raised by his mother in Evansville, Indiana, and said life at home wasn’t always easy. “My mom worked two and three jobs, we bounced around. We got evicted,” explained Burrow.
At an early age, Burrow made up his mind that he would join the military. And after getting his GED, he did just that.
Burrow said, “There weren’t too many men in my father, uncle generation and no one hadn’t served and so I thought I should.”
Burrow was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for five years and did one tour of Iraq. It was during that time he met his wife Kara. The couple would go on to spend time at Fort Knox in Kentucky and in California. But after 10 years in the Army, Burrow decided to put family first.
“My daughter who is now 16, there were some incidents when I realized there were things with her that I didn’t want to miss out on with my son. Low and behold I would have 3 more daughters after that so I decided I wanted to be home with my wife and kids,” added Burrow.
First, Burrow had to find a job, which he said he didn’t have a problem doing. Burrow said finding housing was a different story. “Everywhere we have lived the military has told us where to live so I told my wife now you get to pick,” he said.
Eventually, the Burrows landed in Mortons Gap and purchased a 2,600-square-foot, seven-bedroom house for $10,000 cash. But, the home was in bad shape.
“I was driving down from Evansville, working on the house, working on the floors. The roof at one point a storm blew the tarp off and it rained through and all the insulation came in,” said Burrow.
The Burrows lived in the home for five years until a chat between wife Kara and their pastor motivated her to stop in the Pennyrile region Habitat for Humanity office where she met Heath Duncan, the region’s executive director.
“I heard this lady in the lobby talking about applying for a Habitat house and she casually mentioned her and her husband lived in military housing,” Duncan described of his meeting with Kara.
That conversation quickly turned into a plan. And before you know it, the Burrows had a team of volunteers ready to fix their home or so they thought.
The home turned out to be too big of a project for Habitat for Humanity. So the organization built the Burrows a brand new home, with the help of dozens of volunteers and other groups like The Home Depot Foundation, Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, and Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.
The new home meant the Burrows would now have a mortgage even though the original home was paid for in full and in cash. But, Habitat for Humanity came to the rescue there too by teaming up with Home Depot to pay off the Burrow’s mortgage, an announcement made on the “Drew Barrymore Show.”
The organizations and volunteers worked around the clock despite challenges presented by the pandemic to make the Burrows’ dream home come true.
Mary Shearer, the executive director of Kentucky Habitat for Humanity, said the project means more than hammer and nails.
“We don’t say no and we serve and we serve the neediest of Kentucky veterans. It makes me feel wonderful. It makes me feel like this is the purpose of Habitat. This is what we do,” added Shearer.
For the Burrows, it means making memories and creating traditions like greeting the children in the driveway after school or being able to share a family meal together. “It’s almost like you forget how blessed you are by it like we have a house.”
Kentucky Habitat for Humanity has assisted more than 200 veterans with housing. Other organizations that made the Burrows’ home possible include LG&E and KU, Solar Shares, Wilson Construction, Groves Construction, and USDA Rural Development.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity or how you can apply for assistance, visit kyhabitat.org.
FOX 56 reporter Georgiaree Godfrey will have the full story at 6 p.m. on Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day.