ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — In an effort to prevent veteran suicide, Rockford’s Project 4114 aims to provide a mortgage-free home to a deserving veteran.
Laura Kane is the executive director of the suicide prevention charity organization Marshmallow’s Hope.
Kane started the nonprofit in memory of her son, Zachary Birkholz, who died of suicide at the age of 14.
She says she can’t believe how much progress her team has made in transforming a blighted home, at 125 Lakin Terrace, previously owned by the Winnebago County Trustee Program, into a rehabilitated living space.
“It doesn’t even look like the same place. Even on the inside of what we’ve done. It’s been really cool,” Kane said.
Her organization enlisted community members and companies to lend a helping hand in the reconstruction, adding a new roof, new siding, and a brand new deck to the property.
“We’ve been able to reframe the inside of the house, but we still have to bring in the electrician, the HVAC, the plumber. They still have to finalize those touches, insulation and then drywall. The kids in the Marshmallow’s Hope program will have a big part in being able to help with the drywall, the painting, and the final finishing touches. We’d also love to do something amazing for the garden,” she said.
She says her goal is for the community to see how they can make a difference by coming together.
“It’s supposed to show people that things can be broken, they can be damaged, but we can piece them all back together and make them beautiful. And then what better way to show the community to have a gifting, you know, that purposeful meaning behind it by gifting it to a veteran in need?” Kane said.
The home will be gifted in honor of 17-year-old Byron football player Caden Pritz and her son, Zachary.
“I hope that we can continue to come together as a community and make strides to bring change to the mental health and suicide prevention field,” she said.
Kane hopes the house will be done by Veteran’s Day, on Saturday, November 11th.
This weekend, Marshmallow’s Hope is hosting a gala where it will announce the name of the veteran who will be gifted the home. It will be held October 14th at the Lombardi Club, 209 Olive Street, at 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.