‘HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS’
Staff Sgt. Jason Duke North and Family
Two years ago, the ‘Home Team’ consisting of Realtors and staff of RE/MAX Realty Center (Cypress, TX) and the Texas Sentinels Foundation (TSF) dedicated a debt free, fully furnished home to Staff SGT Jason Duke North and his beautiful family--wife, MaryJoy, daughter, Haley, age 6, and twin boys, Jace and James, 2 months.
Jason courageously served his country as a 19 Delta cavalry scout for 8 years in the US Army. He completed 2 tours in Iraq. Eleven months into his second tour (October, 2008), Jason was severely injured when his Humvee rolled over. Along with a broken back, he suffered Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy. Six years later, he continues to have back pain and seizers rendering him unable to drive and received a service dog named Parole, who can get help if Jason has a seizure.
The North’s story greatly improves when they find out MaryJoy is pregnant with twin boys! And their friends (and former TSF home recipients), encouraged them to apply for ‘a home of their own’ through TSF. After a lot of documents were submitted and several rounds of interviews were conducted, the North’s were selected to be recipients of our Cypress home! We couldn’t have been happier!
TSF (a 501(c)3 charity) was founded in 2007 by Richard and Jeanne Filip to give back to the military men and women of our Armed Forces. TSF believes that through the personal sacrifice and heroic dedication of our Soldiers and their families, freedom and security is available to all Americans. Check out their website at http://texassentinels.org/about-us/.
Gayla Skates, then Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Realty Center, graciously agreed to take on the TSF home located in Cypress, TX. Cypress is a rapidly growing suburb of Houston where a lot of young families live. The project entailed gutting a foreclosure to make it ADA compliant, removing a kitchen wall to open up the main living area and rebuilding the entire home and then furnishing it! In addition, the yard was fully sodded, landscaped, fenced and a wonderful covered patio was added.
As Chairman of the Interior Committee, I talked with the North’s often about their taste in décor and what they needed with the twins on the way. Our team was amazing and gave up a lot of their personal time, money and some very late nights to help. Also, my office and lots of our real estate partners stepped up to help with the home and homecoming preparations.
The big day arrived! The Patriot Guard Riders came early to line the street of the subdivision with their motorcycles and US flags. The TSF founders, staff, clergy, Texan’s cheerleaders, our ‘Home Team’ and lots of colleagues, family, friends and vendors were present. Everything was ready when the North family arrived in a pink limo (yup, it was pink for Haley!). Army Strong! LOL
It was a beautiful and touching ceremony. After the home was blessed and dedicated, the North’s could tour it for the first time! We’ll never forget the joy on their faces. All the hard work obtaining donations, materials, labor, and coordinating everything had paid off and the North’s were truly ‘Home for the Holidays’!
I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your busy day to watch the homecoming sequence. It’s a heartwarming video, not only for the North’s, but for TSF and all our brave soldiers who risk everything for our freedoms. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bbS6fz5aOE
Let’s forward to the present day. I’m still very involved in the North’s lives. Haley and I enjoy ‘Haley Days’, where just the two of us spend the day doing whatever she wants. Having twin brothers, a disabled dad and a mom who works part-time and is always on the go, Haley especially likes spending time together making crafts, baking and just hanging out.
Haley is like her parents, very sweet and giving. I admire them so much and not having children or grandchildren of my own, they are super special to me. I try to spend as much time as possible with them. Little did I know that when I volunteered for the TSF home project, it would also change my life and bring me ‘Home for the Holidays’! Merry Christmas!