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The Villages
Thursday, April 22, 2021

Residents invited to share ‘notes of love’ at disabled veteran’s new Villages home

Villagers for Veterans is preparing to hold a special event for a disabled veteran who is getting a new house in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown – and the public is invited to attend.

Work is progressing on Sgt. Pam Kelly’s new home on the Historic Side of The Villages. It will include a generator, a sidewalk that will provide for a rear emergency exit and a wide driveway that will allow for the wheelchair-bound Kelly to be loaded into a specially fitted van.

Donors, sponsors and supporters of “A House Built With Love” are invited to stop by the building site of Sgt. Pam Kelly’s new home on the Historic Side of The Villages at 1307 Teakwood Ln. on Friday from 1-3 p.m. Those attending will be asked to “put notes of love and support” on the inner walls and wood frames of the home before the drywall is installed.

Kelly’s new residence will be a smart home that was especially designed for her. The 17-year Army veteran’s spine was crushed when a cable snapped during a sling load operation while she was training for deployment to Iraq. As a result of her injuries, she is permanently paralyzed and has very limited use of one arm.

Kelly’s Orange Blossom Gardens home is block and mortar and will have a stucco finish. It will include a generator and a sidewalk that will provide for a rear emergency exit for the wheelchair-bound Kelly. And it comes with a wide driveway that will allow for Kelly to be loaded into a specially fitted van.

Sgt. Pam Kelly shows her appreciation to Marie Bogdonoff during the January groundbreaking ceremony for her new home in the Village of Orange Blossoms Gardens. Bogdonoff is the founder and president and Villagers for Veterans, which has raised the money to build the new ‘smart’ home for the disabled Army veteran.

Villagers for Veterans, which last week received a $1,500 donation from the Opera Club of The Villages to go toward Kelly’s home, held a groundbreaking ceremony in January that was attended by a variety of people, including The Villages Twirlers and Drum Corps and World War II veteran Irving Locker, who was singled out and praised for his service by President Trump during his State of the Union address in February.

Villagers for Veterans Founder and President Marie Bogdonoff said she’s extremely grateful for the hard work and the donations that have made Kelly’s new home a reality. She recalled earlier this year how quiet and reserved Kelly was when she first met her. And she said she knew it was time to take action when efforts to get Kelly’s house built by other organizations fell through because she wasn’t a combat veteran.

“Pam hasn’t only become part of the Villagers for Veterans family, she has become part of my own personal family,” Bogdonoff said.

Sgt. Pam Kelly arrives at the Colony Cottage Recreation Center in Novenber 2018 for the ‘flightless’ Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

For her part, Kelly, who also participated in a flightless Villages Honor Flight a year ago, said she’s looking forward to becoming a Villager.

“I can’t wait to get here,” said the current Tampa area resident. “It will be awesome to be part of this community.”

A crowd of area residents joined Villagers for Veterans in January to celebrate the groundbreaking event for a ‘smart’ home for disabled Army veteran Pam Kelly.

As for Bogdonoff and Villagers for Veterans, Kelly said there really are no words to express her appreciation.

“The world is over the moon,” she said while enjoying the recent concert at Lake Sumter Landing featuring Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band. “I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough from the bottom of my heart. They are so wonderful.”

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