McALLEN – Several For Sale signs inside the new Las Villas Del Rio at The Groves subdivision line the empty lots. The neighborhood will be filled and those purchasing a new home will have special neighbors in U.S. Marine Corporal Miguel Simental, his wife and three daughters.

Simental, was the lone finalist of 30 applicants to receive a mortgage-free home from Operation Finally Home, a non-profit organization which have built over 250 homes across 33 states for American Armed Forces veterans and the widows of the fallen.

The ground breaking event, hosted by HEB, was a complete surprise for Simental. The marine got emotional when he saw the sea of red shirts worn by HEB Partners and others in the community to welcome his family to the site of their new home.

It was not easy for Simental to fill out the application for the new home. He admits accepting help and small gestures has always been difficult but Simental was experiencing an unbelievable feeling upon learning about his new home.

When he first told his girls about the possibility of moving back to McAllen they were ecstatic.

“I foresee good things that will come from this and I am excited to share the great moments that my family and I will make in this future home,” Simental said. “Thank you for giving us a piece of mind, we may not be able to thank you enough, however we are grateful for the efforts that were made here that will make our lives less difficult.”

The Builder

The home will be constructed by Verturo Interests, a development, realty and construction company led by Joey Holland. Five years ago the local builder's association were asking for people to help to construct the first home in the Rio Grande Valley by Operation Finally Home.

Holland donated the cabinets for the home without second thought.

“It was meant as a toke of gratitude for my grandfather,” who at the time had recently passed away and Holland was thinking about. “I know he would have been proud that I helped a fellow marine.”

After the construction was complete, Holland received a letter from Sgt. Jacob de la Garza thanking him for being part of the construction of his new home.

After a few outings with some veterans and learning about what sacrifice means, Holland reached out to Operation Finally Home to announce he wanted to spear head the way for a new home for a veteran.

“There is not a day that goes by that I am not appreciative of what our men and women in uniform have done for us,” Holland said.

Operation Final Home

The organization receives several applications from veterans looking for a home.

Lee Kirgan, a representative with Operation Final Home said while every veteran that serves deserves all they can do to make their lives better, what the organization focuses on are veterans who are 70 percent of more disabled.

The organization builds all homes with donations. On average the value of the homes are in the $300,000 range, but the cost to build is under $100,000.

“For every dollar that is donated we can go $3 on the house,” Kirgan said.

Operation Final Home began in Houston but now has a corporate office in New Braunfels. They have projects in 34 states and hope to build within the entire continental United States.