Veteran and his family get mortgage-free home in CH
On May 18, a long-serving, decorated veteran and his family received a newly renovated, mortgage-free furnished home in Cleveland Heights, through an ongoing partnership between Citizens Bank and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
The home was presented to U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Charlie Pepinrivera, who served his country for more than 24 years, with tours of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Bosnia.
Wounded during several military operations, Pepinrivera also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury as a result of his deployments. His service commendations include the Combat Action Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star Medal.
Pepinrivera, who retired in 2017, started his service in the Puerto Rico National Guard, where he served for four years before joining the U.S. Army.
Citizens Bank partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation to find and renovate a home that met the family’s needs. Nearly 100 bank employees and their families volunteered their time to clean, paint, rake and plant to get the home ready.
Pepinrivera, his wife, Maribel, and their six children, Joseph, Mariela, Joyce, Gabriel, Joimar and Jonnel, had been living in San Antonio, but needed to move to the Cleveland area in order to be closer to family and friends who can help with his recuperation.
The family has always been active in their community, volunteering their efforts to feed the homeless and provide clothing and school materials for children. They look forward to playing an active role in their new community.
Community residents and Citizens Bank employees lined Canterbury Road as a parade led the bus carrying Pepinrivera and his family to their new home.
"I've been crying since I got here,'' Pepinrivera told the crowd before he and his family saw the inside of the home. "People call me hero, but I'm not a hero. I'm just a guy who wanted to make a difference.''
Touring the home—filled with donated furniture, appliances and outdoor tools and games—clearly overwhelmed the family as they went from room to room.
"We never got anything for free, not even a shirt going to a game,'' said Pepinrivera. "Having a home—and all this—and the community is just amazing.''
"We're so used to giving to other people that when it's our time to receive, it feels so weird,'' said Maribel.
“We are proud to honor Charlie’s brave service by providing him with a home that has been refurbished with pride and great care,” said Brad Conner, vice chairman and head of Consumer Banking, Citizens Bank. “Our colleagues are committed to supporting the communities where we live and work, and we are truly excited to have helped renovate this home for Charlie and his family.”
“It is a privilege and an honor to award a mortgage-free home to Charlie and his family,” said Kathy Feeney, executive advisor of Housing Initiatives with Military Warriors Support Foundation. “This amazing opportunity doesn’t get to happen by itself. Together, with donors like Citizens Bank, we are given the opportunity to serve those who have served for us.”
Betsy O'Connell is a freelance writer and media relations professional. Citizens Bank is a client.