Our last dedication of 2019 was just as special as our first. After almost a year at First Story, you would think the emotion of watching a new homeowner receive the keys to their first home would “wear off,” but tears of joy flowed and I felt such a sense of gratitude to be a part of it all.

I met Nathan Barnhart a few days before the dedication as he sat down with Claire to sign his loan documents. Nate was warm and personable as he eagerly signed the stack of papers. He was planning to move his three pieces of furniture in on dedication day and was most excited about is Lazy Boy.

Nate is a veteran. He enrolled after high school and spent seven years serving this country as an electrician in the Air Force. During his service he completed two tours in Iraq, one tour in Africa and months cleaning up after a devastating hurricane hit Florida. At the end of his service he was surprised to find that his military training wasn’t highly sought after and that re-entry into civilian life was much more difficult. In many ways he was starting over. I’m not sure if people realize what a difficult time our military men and women can face in making the transition from military life to private life.

After returning to the Tri-Cities, WA where he grew up and where his family still lived, he quickly developed a new appreciation for “home.” He watched as fellow service members struggled with re-entry – two unfortunately taking their own lives. He felt a deep sense of appreciation for his support network and for finding First Story. A home was going to be the foundation for new beginnings and new dreams.

Surrounded by friends and family on a chilly November day, Nate proudly took the keys to his new Hayden Home. His eyes lit up as he walked through the front door and saw his kitchen for the first time. Nate’s future changed that day, but the community also received a special gift – a proud homeowner eager to serve his neighbors.

Congrats Nate, you make us all #HomeProud!