AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - An Austin U.S. Army and Navy veteran had been using his kitchen stove for heat until Tuesday when Austin police delivered a donated, electric heating unit to his home. 92-year-old World War II veteran Louis Hicks said his four children do everything they can to help care for him.
“Anytime they think about how daddy ain't in the house, they're coming,” said Hicks.
Still, living in a house built in the 1930's means sometimes things slip through the cracks. For Hicks that includes repairing walls, ceilings and floors.
After members of the community saw the story on FOX 7 Austin News, they realized they could help the veteran live more comfortably, they immediately started showing up for him. “We want to try to coordinate as much as we can getting the public's help, coming over giving back to a veteran,” said Jared Dishman with the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders.
“I specialize in flooring, but, obviously everybody who does manual work is pretty good with their hands, but I knew for a fact I could help out with the floors,” said Fernando Zapot.
It was a surprising and humbling moment for Hicks. He said as a proud veteran he didn't ever considering asking a stranger for help, but it was an offer he couldn't refuse. “We know they're very proud. We're very proud of them. We don't want to give to them and make them feel less, we just want to give and make their lives better,” Dishman said.
“The first thing that he said was, ‘Who's going to pay for it?’ And I told him, ‘don't worry about it. I'll find the carpet and, obviously, I'm going to do the installation myself so no problem there at all,” said Zapot.
“If you never had anyone to help you, give you anything, offer you anything, you just lay there and just be thinking… God is good,” Hicks said.
Wednesday, Zapot measured each room for new carpet. Meanwhile, Wind Therapy Freedom Riders started working to create an event for the second weekend in February to seal and repair Hicks' home. “If those two don't know nothing about me and come, somebody else hearing it too,” said Hicks.
Somebody else was hearing it. The City of Austin Commission on Veteran’s Affairs, Meals on Wheels Veteran's Assistance and the Home Depot Foundation all agreed to chip in their expertise, time, and supplies. “Whoever the people are, thank them for me. It's really wonderful to know somebody cares,” Hicks said. Honor Flight Austin said they are also arranging to take Hicks on a trip to the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. this April.