By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in the Dallas Morning News and Denton Record Chronicle on Nov. 7, 2014
Organizers of a group called Lewisville Helping Its Heroes are working to raise funds to incorporate as a registered nonprofit, tax-exempt group.
Formed in July, Lewisville Helping Its Heroes focuses on assisting service members, military veterans, first responders, educators and their families.
Angela Bennett-Engele, a longtime resident of Lewisville, is the group’s president. The group relies on volunteers from the community to accomplish its mission.
“It is unfortunate that patriotism has fallen to a record low, [but] through endeavors like this, we can turn things around,” she said. “It takes reaching one person to make a difference.”
The group provides much-needed services ranging from home repairs to purchasing clothing or food. So far, they have helped a single family and plan to help one family each year.
“We are a new group,” she said. “But we have grown and can’t thank the community enough for their support.”
Her father, Air Force Capt. Steven L. Bennett, died in the Vietnam War and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. She has served with other veterans support organizations and as volunteer coordinator for the Fort Worth Veterans Museum.
“As the daughter of a Medal of Honor recipient, it is an honor to assist, and show my appreciation to anyone who has served their community or country,” she said. “Too often we overlook or take for granted the level of dedication these brave people have.”
Erich and Emilee Klein, owners of Badgers BBQ, came across the group on Facebook as they were scheduling the restaurant’s grand opening. Badgers focuses on serving service members, and the owners took interest in the group, Erich Klein said.
“Michelle — one of the officers of the organization — came in, sat down and talked to us about how we can have a mutually beneficial relationship,” Klein said.
Lewisville Helping Its Heroes treasurer Joey Hernandez is a carpenter. He helped with the restaurant renovations. In return, the restaurant owners let Heroes use their banquet space to pass out fliers and information about the organization during the grand opening Oct. 4.
“They [Helping Our Heroes] have been wonderful and believe in the same things we believe in,” Klein said.
The grand opening included a raffle, with proceeds going to the Heroes group to help the family of an area Marine. The group has provided birthday gifts for the Marine’s son, employment assistance and home remodeling work.
On Oct. 18, the organization held a fix-up party to get all the home repairs done in one day. A new volunteer, who worked to get the walls of the master bathroom retextured, was able to donate ceramic tile for the bathrooms.
“We appreciated that because we are only currently on a ‘peel and stick’ budget,” Bennett-Engele said. “It is so nice for our members to pull together to offer even better than what we can afford.”
Group members returned Oct. 25 to finish landscaping, paint, put down tile in two bathrooms and hang ceiling fans and lights.
“They did wonderful work,” Bennett-Engele said. “We really appreciate all of their hard work.”
The group later hosted a booth selling glow sticks at the annual Lewisville Spooktacular Trails and Glow Run Extravaganza, handed out candy and fliers and staffed a fishing game for children.
“Everyone was exhausted and just ready to get home and put their feet up. It was a busy, warm, loud, crazy, stressful day,” Bennett-Engele said. “But, in the end, we did what we set out to do and that was help our military family, and spend time connecting with the community.”
On Nov. 1, group members spent the day at an antique car show after event sponsors invited them to participate.
“What an honor for us,” she said. “We are so excited that people are taking notice of us and what we are doing for the community.”
Lewisville/Flower Mound editor Adam Schrader can be reached at 214-773-8188 and on Twitter at @schrader_adam.