There was a feeling of excitement in the air Thursday morning in the Towne Mill community, as residents celebrated a family of Marine veterans receiving a new home through the Operation Homefront program.
Juval Shreves and his wife Shandrika met each other while serving in the United States Marine Corps. Now retired from the service and raising two daughters, the family was looking to settle down and establish themselves in a community. With this dream having been fully realized Thursday morning, the Shreveses felt an overwhelming sense of excitement to receive a home they could call their own.
“I was ecstatic,” Shandrika Shreves said. “It feels like a firecracker going off.”
Juval Shreves added, “It was breathtaking and exhilarating. There are a lot of veterans who were just as worthy to receive this house.”
The Shreves were able to receive this new home thanks in part to a strong partnership formed between Operation Homefront and Meritage Homes, who have made it their mission to help America’s veterans obtain a home of their own.
“Meritage is proud to have this partnership with Operation Homefront,” said Jonathan White with Meritage. “This is our seventh year in partnership. Together, we’re a perfect match.”
White said that, since the partnership had been established, they have been able to provide 12 homes to veterans through the program, with the Shreves becoming the 13th.
Meritage’s Clint Szubinski said, “We are deeply committed to providing the American Dream to veterans and their families. Our Atlanta division really stepped up. This was a very special project for our team.”
Szubinski told the Shreveses they would be living in one of the best built homes in the Atlanta area and wished them many years of making happy family memories there.
Shandrika Shreves said she had been familiar with Operation Homefront and its mission for some time before she and her husband decided to apply for the home in Towne Mill. She described how detailed and extensive the application process is, as veterans submitting their applications have to submit a personal statement about themselves, information on their financial standing and what their career goals for the future are, among other important items.
“You really have to think deeply and be heartfelt,” she said.
Camille Jenkins from Meritage said that more than 100 applications from veterans had been received for the house in Towne Mill, showing how the need is still great for other veterans.
While Meritage and Operation Homefront were the two main groups involved in building the house, there were many others involved in the process. A sign next to the house listed off the many companies as well as the city of Canton that had a hand in the development and construction phases to make this house a reality, while the Shreves’ new neighbors contributed to purchase a pair of rocking chairs with the Marine Corps seal for the front porch and local Girl Scout members placed small American flags along the road leading to the home.
Following comments from Meritage and Operation Homefront officials, the Shreveses were presented with the ceremonial key to the house before being taken on a private tour of their new home, while others made their way up the hill to one of the development’s model homes for refreshments.
As the Shreveses move into their new home and settle in, Meritage and Operation Homefront officials said the family would be working with a housing caseworker and a financial counselor to help them build up savings, reduce debt and learn valuable home ownership skills.
Along with that, Shandrika Shreves said they will be working on getting into the groove of their new routine while also finding ways to grow in their new community.
“This is definitely a life-changing moment,” Juval Shreves said after the tour. “It feels like we’re floating on a cloud.”