May 1, 2017

 

Yolanda and Alcide met as teenagers in the small city of Lafayette, Louisiana, along the banks of the Vermilion River. After getting married, Alcide enlisted in the Navy and the two of them moved together to his first post at the Alameda Naval Base.

“We’ve been married 60 years,” crooned Yolanda with a laugh, reminiscing about her engagement to her husband, Alcide. “I liked him. Then he started coming by the house. He’d given me a ring. Then he joined the service, and didn’t tell me. I gave him back his ring. In the next few days, I changed my mind, and I took it back.”

Like many Southerners who came before them, Yolanda and Alcide decided to stay in California after his years in the Navy. When their first son was born, they moved into the house where they still live 40 years later. For Yolanda, education was a big reason to stay in the Bay Area. 

“I didn’t want my kids to have the kind of education I did.”

Together they raised three children, living off Alcide’s salary as a Greyhound bus driver and Yolanda’s salary as a seamstress.

“We believed in education a lot. So we struggled to put all our kids in Catholic school. I don’t know how we managed it when I look back.”

Their investment in education paid off. Eventually, their eldest son was accepted to study at Harvard University. Yolanda remembers the moment she knew she had to teach him some tough love. “He called and said, ‘Mama, I thought I was smart. But these people here are so smart. I’m comin home.’ And I said, ‘You’re comin home over my dead body.’ Then I hung up the phone. And he did not come back.”

After devoting so much of their lives to country and family, Yolanda and Alcide -- who are both facing health challenges -- finally got their chance to be on the receiving end of a remarkable gift. This spring, they were the recipients of a generous grant from The Home Depot Foundation’s Helping Homebound Heroes program. This program funds Team Depot projects, led by locally-organized employees of The Home Depot, to help veterans continue to live safely in their homes.

Over the course of three spring days, a team of 11 employees from The Home Depot stores in Colma and San Carlos joined forces to tackle a punch list of jobs at Yolanda and Alcide’s home. They installed a handrail on the indoor staircase, replaced a toilet, removed weeds, landscaped the yard, stabilized an outdoor fence, and put a fresh coat of paint on an outdoor area that stores the garbage, recycling, and compost containers.

Jennifer, the manager of the San Carlos store, remarked, “It’s really nice for us to come together as a community from two stores.” She was moved by Yolanda’s warmth and appreciation. “She held my hand as we were walking around the house. For many seniors, they can’t do this work for themselves. It’s a humbling experience to ask for help and people are blown away by the fact that we are here to help.”

For Yolanda and Alcide, the work came right on time. Each of them struggle with mobility, and despite taking immaculate care of their own home for decades, they can no longer keep up with the day-to-day maintenance. The projects completed by Team Depot allow them to remain in their own home, where they want to be.

For Jennifer and the Team Depot crew, the real reward comes once the last weed is pulled and the final coat of paint has dried – a reward worth every minute and dollar.

“You’ll see their faces when they come out and see what their yard looks like. She’ll say, ‘Oh my God.’”

On behalf of all of us at Meals on Wheels we thank The Home Depot Foundation for their support of Homebound Heroes like Yolanda and Alcide!