Community Owners Offer Assistance for Veterans in Need

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    Veterans Assistance Fund Crocketts check
    Barbara and Aaron Crockett hold up a donated check for $3,000 from SECO's Veterans Assistance Fund that helped to pay for a new air conditioning unit at their Florida home.

    SECO Offers Financial Assistance for Veterans

    A new fund to provide assistance for veterans in need sprouted from a group of small- to midsize community owners in the southeast. The fund’s first recipient is a former Marine who the community owners simply wanted to help breathe a bit better.

    The Southeast Community Owners announced the new program during its annual conference last fall. And, at the beginning of the year, the fund awarded Aaron and Barbara Crockett with a much-needed upgrade to their home.

    SECO’s Veterans Assistance Fund is designed to give financial assistance for veterans living in mobile home communities.

    A New AC and Heat Unit

    Veterans Assistance Fund Installer
    An installer sets up the new Carrier AC and heating unit that will help control the climate and ease Aaron Crockett’s breathing.

    SECO contributed $3,000 toward a new air conditioning and heating unit for the Crocketts’ manufactured home in Wildwood Country Resort in Wildwood, Fla.

    The Crocketts’ new AC and heat unit, installed in January, will help Aaron with his breathing problems. Aaron, now 80, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1967. He currently suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, along with kidney problems. He also has survived bladder cancer.

    His breathing problems are at least partially from exposure to jet fuel. Aaron Crocket was a flight engineer and mechanic in the Marines. Aaron’s doctor told him a new, filtered AC unit that steadied the humidity level inside his home would help him breathe.

    The Crocketts’ manufactured home, built in the early 1980s, still had the original AC unit and duct work. Replacing it cost about $5,500. Paying the full cost would have been extremely difficult for the couple, and probably would have delayed the project significantly, Barbara said.

    “We’re eternally grateful for SECO’s help,” she said. “I don’t know how we would have done this without it.”

    How SECO and the Crocketts Connected

    Veterans Assistance Fund AC Unit
    The old AC unit that came with the Crockett’s mid-1980s home in Wildwood Country Resort.

    The Crocketts came to SECO’s attention via Charles Frey, one of the owners of Wildwood Country Resort. Frey knew Aaron was a veteran, and that he and Barbara needed a new AC unit.

    When one of his business partners handed him a SECO newsletter and he read about the Veterans Assistance Fund, Frey thought he’d found a great way to help the long-time residents of his park.

    “It couldn’t be going to a nicer couple,” Frey said. “The Crocketts are well thought of in this community.”

    How the SECO Veterans Assistance Fund Came to Be

    David Roden, SECO co-founder and owner of Mountain View Estates in Rossville, Ga., started the Veterans Assistance Fund with Ron Cobb, Dave Jackson, Steve Quick, Blake Hodge, Max Baker, Steve Case, and Maryuri Barberan. The idea came about after Roden encountered a U.S. military veteran who lived in his park. The veteran used an oxygen machine, and had trouble breathing during the heat of summer. He needed help to buy an air conditioner for his living room.

    SECO is a nonprofit 501(c)3 that serves the needs of small- and mid-size community owners with its annual conference. More than 400 community owners attended the 2018 conference in Atlanta.

    While the catalyst for the program and the initial awardee are both veterans who require climate control upgrades to breathe better, recipients can be considered for a variety of reasons.

    Perhaps there’s a need for a handicap-accessible toilet, or a wheelchair ramp, or grab bars. The veteran in need of assistance can apply for funding through the community operator associated with the SECO organization. An executive committee for the Veterans Assistance Fund reviews all applications and comes to consensus on what requests receive funding.

    Veterans are required to furnish proof of an honorable discharge from the military. Widows of veterans also qualify for aid, Roden said.

    Funds from the SECO website’s Classified Ads section and donations from SECO business and community owners have provided about $3,000 of seed money so far, Roden said.

    Veterans Assistance Fund Wildwood
    Wildwood Country Resort in Wildwood, Fla.

    How to Give or Apply for the Veterans Assistance Fund

    Spencer Roane, owner of Pentagon Properties and co-founder of SECO, said the fund “reflects the attitude of small community owners everywhere of helping those who have served our country through military service.”

    “We hope that those owners who attend the SECO conference will submit requests to provide any assistance whatsoever to the veteran residents of their communities,” Roane said.

    For more information about the Veterans Assistance Fund, send an email to contact (at) secoconference.com. Those interested also can email Maryuri Barberan at maryuri (at) roane.com, or call her at (404) 355-5978.

    Roden said he hopes the fund’s first gift will help Aaron Crockett breathe a little easier. SECO’s leadership includes many veterans of the U.S. armed forces. They want to use the fund to help more of their fellow veterans.