Tri Star, Lots for Soldiers Join For Build

Lots for Soldiers board member Tim Rosengarten (center left) shakes hands with Tri Star Construction teacher Brett McGillvary (center right) surrounded by Lots for Soldiers board members. Members are (from left): Connor Herman, Becki Wagner, Mike Wagner, LFS President Mary Rosengarten, Jennifer Barciz, Nicole Heyne and LFS Vice President Paul Slone.
Staff Writer

It’s a partnership that was just about made for each other. Starting next school year, students in Tri Star Career Compact’s construction program will build a home for a veteran through Lots for Soldiers.

Started in 2014, Lots for Soldiers aims to provide affordable housing to the men and women who fight to protect the United States at home and abroad. Now for the second time in as many years, a home build is on the horizon and this time, some of the younger residents of Auglaize and Mercer counties will lend a helping hand.

“Tim [Buschur] and I were talking about this about a year ago and we agreed that it would be neat if Tri Star were a part of our next build,” said Lots for Soldiers board member Tim Rosengarten. “Tri Star providing all the labor for this is huge because it helps keep the cost down which is what Lots for Soldiers is all about — providing affordable housing for veterans.”

Last year, Lots for Soldiers handed over the keys of their latest home to a St. Marys veteran and his young family. The home was very affordable for veteran Paul Slone, his fiancé Jennifer Barciz and their 4-year-old son, Parker, as their loan for the house was only $1.

In the past year, Slone and Barciz have reflected on what it meant to them to receive more than just a roof over their heads but a stronger sense of community, which they both continue to serve with Slone as vice president of Lots for Soldiers while Barciz is a board member.

“I honestly can’t put into words what that home means,” Slone said. 

“I don’t have exact numbers or statistics but it’s common for vets to be referred to as ‘gypsies’ because they don’t like to stay in one place for too long because you get into a routine and then as you get comfortable, it gets scary,” Barciz added. 

Both Slone and Barciz brought home invisible wounds from war as both battle post-traumatic stress. Having a place to call their own and to raise their son has helped ease some of the pain that can be brought home from the battlefield.

To have the young future of the area sign on to help those who served in America’s armed forces is something that means a lot to the couple as well as to Rosengarten. 

The reward for the students will not be monetary but Tri Star Construction teacher Brett McGillvary said that is not a concern for the current juniors.

“This is part of their future because giving back is part of construction,” he said of the 21 students. 

Although a location and veteran have yet to be chosen, Rosengarten said that process is expected to be completed soon. 

The fundraising portion of the project will begin soon with the first fundraiser scheduled for Nov. 9 and 10 at Crossfit Crave in Celina. Participants will donate and be sponsored to workout with the funds going directly to the Lots for Soldiers project.

As part of the agreement to have the home built, the selected veteran will participate in the construction of the house but Barciz said that participation can help create memories for the family that make the house feel more like home.

“We were given that opportunity and it’s a very humbling experience,” she said. "To see the students work for the veterans here, I think that’s a great partnership.”