Veteran getting second chance at Columbia County home

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 6:36 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 10:36 AM
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Work on a new home for a paralyzed Army veteran and his family is expected to get under way soon, more than six months after a previous effort was blocked by an Evans property owners association.

Iraq War veteran Army Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens is surrounded by his daughters Shawna Gittens, 10,  (clockwise from lower left), Sherae Bramwell, 17, Monique Bramwell, 20, and his wife Sharon Gittens. Seonna Gittens, 16, was not present.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Iraq War veteran Army Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens is surrounded by his daughters Shawna Gittens, 10, (clockwise from lower left), Sherae Bramwell, 17, Monique Bramwell, 20, and his wife Sharon Gittens. Seonna Gittens, 16, was not present.

Homes for Our Troops, a national organization that builds specially adapted houses for severely injured veterans, announced Tuesday that a Build Brigade is scheduled for Jan. 27-28 to begin construction on the home for Sean Gittens. It will be located at 5208 N. Tubman Road, off Washington Road, in Appling.

“It’s the ceremonial kickoff for the project,” Jennifer Fiorentino, the public relations and marketing manager for Homes for Our Troops, said of the Build Brigade.

The event will start with words from the Gittens family, organization leaders, past home recipients and veterans. Then, volunteers will erect the first walls.

“The goal for the remainder of the weekend is for the home to be secured and a weather-tight shell put up,” Fiorentino said.

Gittens wife, Sharon, said she’s optimistic about the build considering it’s the second time the organization has tried to give the family a home.

Construction of the first planned home was set to start in June near the Knob Hill subdivision house the Gittenses currently rent. But the property owners association issued a cease-and-desist order, contending that the organization never got final approval and there were concerns the home would reduce property values.

“I just have confidence that everything is going to be OK this time around,” Sharon Gittens said. “They have already started on the foundation.”

Gittens, a former sergeant 1st class, is partially paralyzed from brain injuries he suffered while deployed overseas. He is wheelchair-bound and can’t get around the family’s current two-story home. He also can’t use the shower or tub.

“That’s not an uncommon story with any of our veterans,” Fiorentino said. “To be able to go through this process and in the end, hand over to those families and veterans (a new home) and a whole new world of opportunities open up to them.”

The 2,700-square-foot home will be specially adapted to include “really very incredible features” like an open floor plan, roll-in shower, lift for the tub and roll-under counter space in the kitchen.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Sharon Gittens said of the bathroom upgrades.

The home will be given to the Gittenses for free.

The house will be built with volunteer labor, donated money and materials.

Skilled laborers wishing to volunteer can register by visiting www.homesforourtroops.org. Also on the site is a list of received and needed materials.

Comments (16) Add comment
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comet2u
28
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comet2u 01/03/12 - 07:16 pm
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Great news and a happy

Great news and a happy ending.

Willow Bailey
20605
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Willow Bailey 01/03/12 - 08:14 pm
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Congratulations Gitten's

Congratulations Gitten's Family. Your community loves you and appreciates your service and sacrifice. May the Lord continue to bless and encourage you in every way.

Riverman1
93477
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Riverman1 01/03/12 - 08:23 pm
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Let's hope this house makes

Let's hope this house makes his life a little easier.

TrulyWorried
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TrulyWorried 01/03/12 - 09:12 pm
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What wonderful news to start

What wonderful news to start out the New Year with! And Sergeant First Class Gitten is still a Sergeant First Class, although he is retired. Am I right on this or not? Can someone set this straight?

Cynical old woman
1111
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Cynical old woman 01/03/12 - 10:07 pm
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Glad this is turning out well

Glad this is turning out well for the Gittens family.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 01/04/12 - 03:04 am
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looks like snob hill lost out

looks like snob hill lost out on an awesome new neighbor. congratulations Gittens

saltine
281
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saltine 01/04/12 - 05:03 am
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If not for the "value" of

If not for the "value" of freedom
there would be no "value" of property
Some gave all,"Mr.Gittens
Knob hill,gave none

RunningMan
346
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RunningMan 01/04/12 - 07:35 am
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Thank God. Hopefully this is

Thank God. Hopefully this is the start of something great for this family.

corgimom
38317
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corgimom 01/04/12 - 09:35 am
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The actions of the Knob Hill

The actions of the Knob Hill Homeowners' Association was just shameful.

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 01/04/12 - 10:42 am
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Good luck to this deserving

Good luck to this deserving family, and by the way, I agree with you once again corgimom....it was shameful.

caddie160
52
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caddie160 01/04/12 - 11:52 am
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You know, I feel bad for you

You know, I feel bad for you people that trash the residents of Knob Hill without knowing any of the true facts and believe the medias spin.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 01/04/12 - 03:25 pm
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off topic - the part that

off topic - the part that gets me is that a the Homeowners Association gets the final say on whether simple design specs devalue property, yet over in Magnolia trace, installing an entire neighborhood can be done without any concern to what it does to adjacent property value.

To Mr. Gitten, thank you. The earlier poster was correct in that Knob Hill is minus one awesome neighbor.

trekelite
0
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trekelite 01/04/12 - 03:47 pm
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lies lies lies-how does this

lies lies lies-how does this organization sleep at night. Why do you think they had to build this house outside a normal subdivision. Once the developers and other hoas found out the truth from there own ears no one wanted to deal with the organization. I'm sorry for the vet but don't blame someone, group, or company for protecting there interests because whoever isn't fortelling with their actions or motives.

Little Lamb
48959
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Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 03:59 pm
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Ms. Rowell says that the new

Ms. Rowell says that the new home will be “in Appling.” I have driven along N. Tubman Road, and I would hardly call it Appling. It would more correctly be considered part of the sprawl west of Evans. It's between Evans and Pollards Corner.

Little Lamb
48959
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Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 04:02 pm
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TVVeedie wrote: The part that

TVVeedie wrote:

The part that gets me is that a the Homeowners Association gets the final say on whether simple design specs devalue property, yet over in Magnolia Trace, installing an entire neighborhood can be done without any concern to what it does to adjacent property value.

That's because the neighborhood along Old Ferry Road does not have a Homeowners Association or protective covenants. Knob Hill Estates has both.

reekax
0
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reekax 01/31/12 - 02:36 pm
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A big congratulations to Sgt.

A big congratulations to Sgt. Glittens and family! Let me ad, "thank you so much for your service to our Country".

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the HFOT event in Houston, TX and getting to meet and visit at length with the organization's founder John Gonsalves. What a great man and patriot he is!

I look forward to seeing the photos and videos of you and your family in your new home. Again, Congratulations!

As for the Knob Hill sub-division and their HOA's attitude, it is my opinion after reading all of the rhetoric over the issue with the first home, that your family made a wise decision. You sir, are a true, living, American Hero and they do not deserve to be around you.

God bless, and enjoy your new home!

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