William Velez, Florida firefighters paint home of blind World War II veteran.
World War II veteran William Velez might be blind, but he hasn’t lost sight of the kindness of strangers.
The Hillsborough County Fire Department brought an army of volunteers to paint the 89-year-old man’s home in Tampa.
“It makes me glad, I’m very, very happy for that,” Velez said.
The annual ‘Paint Your Heart Out Tampa’ event is all about giving back to the community.
“In the fire service we are innate to give back to the community,” said Ken Forward, the Paint Your Heart Out Team Captain. “To assist the community, to serve the community, and that’s what we’re doing today.”
Dozens of department staff, including the fire chief, took part in painting and perfecting the outside of Velez’s home.
“With his disabilities, he’s not able to get around and maintain his home the way he’d like,” Forward said. “He told me he painted his home 17 years ago by himself. But now with his impairment, he can’t do it, so we’re here to help him.”
Inside, smoke detectors were installed by fire cadets like Will Caldwell and Kellcee Aurich. The teenagers continued the effort throughout the neighborhood.
“Not a lot of people had them actually,” Aurich said. “Some people only had one, one in the hallways.”
Forward says it’s the look on the homeowners’ faces that makes it all worth it.
“Mr. Velez and his wife came out and met with us, and just to see his appreciation and gratitude is rewarding,” he said.
It’s proof that a fresh coat of paint and a whole lot of love goes a long way.