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New neighbors: Volunteers building former Marines new homes in Escondido

Cpl. Storey and Sgt. Holmes laid down life and limb for their country and the helping hands of those young and old are helping to repay that sacrifice.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — It’s a project that would have taken days. But even on a sweltering morning in North County, hundreds of hands, big and small get the job done in a few hours.  

What they’re building, is a small part of the American dream. A new house in the suburbs, a front yard with plants, flowers and bright green grass. 

So I guess it’s fitting that Corporal Kionte Storey and First Sergeant Ben Holmes, both of the United States Marine Corps are deserving recipients of brand new homes in Escondido.

Cpl. Storey did two tours of duty, once in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. 

In 2010, he lost his right leg below the knee in an IED explosion. In the last 10 years, he’s adapting physically and mentally but still lives in a world not designed for his needs.

"I actually fell in the shower one time and that's where I realized, like, 'oh, man, this life sucks' in that moment," said the Cpl. Storey. "'I'm going to die in the shower' because I actually slipped and hit my head. And that's when I realized I have to figure out something else."

That’s where Mell Barbosa and Homes For Our Troops comes in, an organization that works with volunteer builders, electricians, cement layers and landscapers. 

The organization builds houses from the ground up for the needs of wounded servicemen and women.

"Roll under countertops, lowered countertops to make things more accessible by wheelchair, widen doorways and open floor plan," said Barbosa. "A lot of things that just simplify the lives of veterans who may have difficulty or struggles to get around in their normal homes."

Cpl. Storey and Sgt. Holmes laid down life and limb for their country and the helping hands of those young and old are helping to repay that sacrifice. 

Hundreds of volunteers out in the blazing heat giving the two veterans the warmest welcome they can to the neighborhood.

"When I was thinking about it last night, I was just like, what can you say?" said Cpl. Storey "I'm thankful. I'm happy to be alive. I'm blessed to be here. But 'thank you' is never enough. You know, I have a home or I'm getting a home where I live in. I can raise a family." 

WATCH RELATED: Honoring our veterans (September 2021)