WESLEY CHAPEL — A Pasco Army veteran was the recipient of a new refrigerator, gas stove and water heater courtesy of Cross Country Home Services and TECO Peoples Gas.
A crew installed a tankless water heater in the garage of Vu Brown’s Wesley Chapel home Wednesday, while others replaced appliances in the home’s kitchen.
The event was part of Cross Country Home Service’s Operation Appliance Aid program, which has been in place for about two years. The program provides veterans with free appliances for their homes.
“Being selected is a blessing,” said Brown, 43, who served in Operation Desert Storm. “To have this opportunity to be one of the few selected makes me feel truly blessed. So many veterans could have had this opportunity and for me to have this opportunity is amazing.”
In all, 17 veterans from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, have been selected since the program began, according to Omar Lambiro of CCHS, a home-warranty company.
“There’s no value that you can put towards what we do,” Lambiro said. “You walk away knowing you did the right thing.”
Brown spent four years in the Army, from 1988-1992. During his time in the Middle East, he and his father served during the Persian Gulf War. His father also served in the Army.
“It’s a great deed. Seeing my father serve, it meant a lot,” Brown said. “So I decided to do the same thing and now my son has followed in my footsteps seven years ago.” His son serves in the Air Force.
This was the first time Cross County Home Services, which provides home warranties and repairs, paired with TECO Peoples Gas, which provided the tankless water heater.
“We’re really proud to be able to participate because we feel like it’s a way for us to be a good community partner,” TECO Peoples Gas spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said, “and give back to the community in a small way.”
The appliances replaced were about 20 years old. The family had problems with the icemaker in the refrigerator and an igniter had to be replaced on the stove.
“It’s a big help because everything went down not long ago,” Brown’s wife, Iris, said of the appliances. “It’s a big blessing because living on one income is tough.”
Brown lives in the four-bedroom home with his wife, their son Joevani, granddaughter Reina, and an exchange student from Hawaii.
Brown, who is the family cook, once served as an executive chef at Macaroni Grill and said his cooking abilities span Italian to Thai.
As the final grate was placed on top of Brown’s new gas range, he gave a shout. He made it clear that appliance was his favorite addition to the home.
“I do it for the love,” Brown said of cooking. “No more for the restaurant. Just for the family. It brings me to happiness just seeing the family at the table and to see a smile on their face.”