PEC employees welcome veteran Ray Coffey to the Liberty Hill office. (L to R) Journeyworker Marshall Swoda, PEC Construction/Service Manager Troy Whitehead, Ray Coffey, and Lineworker Apprentice Mike Kinne.
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Pedernales Electric Cooperative has long supported military families. In 2010, the Co-op was recognized with a Department of Defense Patriot Award and with the Above and Beyond Award, which is one of the highest honors the Employer Support of the Guard Reserve can bestow on an organization.
The Cooperative employs many veterans and reservists, some of whom are currently deployed, so when PEC Construction/Service Manager Troy Whitehead, who sits on the Liberty Hill City Council, heard about Operation Finally Home’s mission to construct a mortgage-free home for wounded veteran Ray Coffey and his family in Liberty Hill, he knew the Cooperative would want to get involved. Whitehead took the matter to PEC’s leadership and gained quick approval to offer a free-of-charge service connection to Henley Homes, Inc. the builder taking on the project.
Coffey is the recipient of a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2004, the convoy Coffey was commanding in Iraq was attacked by an improvised explosive device (IED). The blast slammed his face into the windshield, breaking his facial bones and jaw and knocking him unconscious. When he awoke, his unit was under heavy gunfire and many of his fellow Marines were suffering from shrapnel wounds. That’s when Coffey leapt to action, drawing the fire to himself to allow the other men in his unit to move to safety. This battle and others resulted in many long-term injuries, leaving him disabled and unable to continue in active service.
“When I heard about the Coffeys and their home,” said Whitehead, “I knew PEC would want to pitch in to help Henley Homes get the electric service connected. Being part of a cooperative means that we’re very hands-on with the communities we serve, and I can’t think of a better community to be involved with than military families.”
The employees in the Liberty Hill office agreed, taking up an additional collection for the Coffeys. On Sept. 10, the office held a luncheon and hosted Ray and Melanie Coffey as guests of honor. There, employees presented the couple with a $1,000 gift card to use toward setting up their new home. When Ray mentioned in conversation that the family’s current rental home didn’t have a mailbox, PEC employees also offered to have one installed.
The Coffeys and their three teenage children recently moved from the Houston area to enjoy the slower pace of Liberty Hill. After Ray went off active duty and lost his full-time nurse, Melanie resigned from her full-time job to help care for him. She said that receiving a new home from Operation Finally Home has been a life-altering experience. “It’s a struggle to support a family of five on disability,” she added, “and shelter is a very basic need. By providing this home for us, they’ve taken that one stress away.”
PEC’s District 2 Board Director Emily Pataki, whose husband is also a U.S. Marine Corps Iraq War veteran, attended the Liberty Hill office luncheon. The event was emotional, and Pataki held back tears as she told the Coffeys, “We thank you so much for what you’ve done for our country and continue to do.” Pataki addressed employees as well, noting, “PEC is really such a special organization to be a part of.”
Operation Finally Home provides mortgage-free homes to disabled veterans and their families. The organization is currently building 73 houses in 28 states. Gary and Lana Henley, owners of Henley Homes, Inc. have donated the construction of the Coffey’s home in Liberty Hill. Gary has secured more than 100 donors for materials and specialized labor. Construction has begun on the Coffey’s four-bedroom, four-bathroom home, which is expected to be completed in January.
Ray and Melanie Coffey (front row) were guests of honor at a PEC Liberty Hill office luncheon Sept. 10. There, PEC employees presented the Coffeys with a gift card for $1,000 to go toward setting up their new home. Behind them are (L to R) Lana Henley of Henley Homes, Inc. (the builder of the mortgage-free home), PEC Member Services Agent Charlie Peeples, PEC Member Services Agent Belinda Gibson and Gary Henley of Henley Homes, Inc.
Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient Ray Coffey and his wife, Melanie, beside the sign posted in front of the mortgage-free home being constructed for them through Operation Finally Home. PEC provided an electric service connection to the home at no cost.