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    Atlanta-area Army Reserve Soldier wins new deck

    Atlanta-area Army Reserve Soldier wins new deck

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Joy Dulen | Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Florence and daughter, Jane, look on as Roisin and Sophia...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Joy Dulen 

    335th Signal Command (Theater)

    By Staff Sgt. Joy Dulen

    ATLANTA - When Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Florence answered his phone around noon on Nov. 20, he was asked if he could be home by 5 p.m. for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

    “I was notified I won a new deck in September and at first, I thought it was a joke,” said Florence. “But then a large amount of supplies were dropped off in my driveway the Wednesday night before the build. I thought it would take two days, but then I received a call and was told to come by as they were just about finished.”

    Florence got home to a long line of work trucks parked in front of his house, echoing sounds of construction, workers hustling back and forth, and his wife and two daughters braving the chilly air to watch the commotion.

    “I heard about the contest through an email from United Military Care,” Florence said. “I never thought my essay would win. I was surprised and shocked and eventually happy to tell my wife the good news!”

    The North American Deck and Railing Association, or NADRA, started the “Deck for a Soldier” program in 2007. With the help of United Military Care, the Atlanta-based NADRA chapter jumped on board in 2010 and began awarding a new deck to one Soldier each year.

    “NADRA in Atlanta comes to us each year and asks us to find a Soldier for this program,” said Myra Ebner, director of operations for United Military Care. “We do a competition and ask families to write us an essay and tell us why they should be chosen to win a new deck.”

    After reading Florence’s entry essay, Ebner found the 2014 winner. Florence, an Army Reserve Soldier assigned to the 317th Military History Detachment, 335th Signal Command (Theater) out of East Point, Ga., said he explained in his essay why serving his country was rewarding for his whole family, and how having a new deck would mean a great deal just knowing it would be a safe place for his children to play and run around.

    “When we started this, we wanted to honor a military family and just thank them for all the work they do and the sacrifices they make,” said Keith Compton, deck builder and NADRA board member. “We wanted to do something we do every day, but in honor of the military by helping at least one family out.”

    Compton and workers from all over Atlanta showed up at the Florence family home early in the morning on a cold day by Georgia standards, and they were still going strong late into the afternoon.

    “We started at seven o’clock in the morning and we had 25 guys out here from four different deck companies and a lot of different vendors from all throughout our industry,” Compton explained. “Now it’s just before five and we’re finishing up, so it’ll be a one-day build on a deck that would normally take a crew about a week to do … so pretty exciting.”

    New deck complete, Compton and the remaining workers gathered the Florence family at the top of the stairs where he thanked them for their service and sacrifice, then held a small ribbon cutting ceremony.

    “When the deck was finished, it looked great! It took me awhile to really believe this had happened,” said Florence. “I can’t thank the volunteers enough and all the companies that provided time, equipment and supplies. It just goes to show that people out in public do care about our service and want to thank us for the job we all do as service members for our country.”

    “It’s just fantastic to be able to give back, not just to a Soldier, but to a family because we realize that the spouses also sacrifice so much,” Compton said. “We always say we get back so much more than we can give in this experience and that’s why we keep doing it and it’s just been a great day.”



    Date Taken: 11.20.2014
    Date Posted: 11.25.2014 11:08
    Story ID: 148777
    Location: ATLANTA, GA, US 
    Hometown: ATLANTA, GA, US

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