WATERLOO — Omega Cabinetry has worked in recent years to provide cabinets for 15 smart homes for catastrophically wounded veterans of America’s post-9/11 wars through the Building for America’s Bravest program.
Omega’s 940 employees got a break from that work Monday.
The Tunnel to Towers traveling exhibit spent more than five hours in the company’s parking lot, recognizing employees’ support for veterans and serving as a reminder of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Omega also offered each employee lunch.
“This is just a small token of us saying thank you for all the work they’ve done over the last three years. This is really the least we can do is come and show our appreciation to everyone who has been a part of it,” said Samantha Vezga, assistant to the chairman of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Building for America’s Bravest is a program of the foundation.
The foundation supports first responders and devastatingly injured service members. It honors Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who died Sept. 11, 2001, in the line of duty after running toward the World Trade Center’s smoldering two towers through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. When the organization learned the first surviving quadruple amputee of the post-9/11 wars lived in Staten Island — where the group is based — it expanded its efforts to build smart homes for veterans, including their native veteran Brendan Marrocco.
More information about the foundation is available at www.tunnel2towers.org.
When Omega Cabinetry learned the foundation planned to help Taylor Morris, a disabled Afghan War veteran and Cedar Falls native who lost portions of all four of his limbs in a May 2012 attack, they contacted the organization.
Since then, workers have built custom cabinets for 15 smart homes and plan work for another 40 in coming years. Kyle Roed, human resources manager at Omega Cabinetry, said plans include supplying the cabinets for Morris’ home.
“I’m just proud to work for an organization that invests in veterans and gives back. I think a lot of the recognition really goes to the organization for doing this,” Roed said. “We do one small part of it, but it takes a lot to build a home, and (we’re) so proud to be a small part of such an impactful organization and help as best we can.”
The cabinets are specially equipped with adaptive technology and built to a height disabled veterans can reach with the touch of a button. Roed said cabinets for veterans are completed as part of employees’ regular duties.
“We give it the same care and attention that we’d give any other cabinet,” Roed said.
Peter Wright, a New York Fire Department captain in Engine Company 241 in Brooklyn who responded on Sept. 11, conducts tours of the traveling exhibit. He lauded the work of Building for America’s Bravest, and said the group goes over every detail when building a smart home.
He said it’s important to remember the 9/11 attacks.
“People are really forgetting about this, or have misconceptions about it, or they don’t know the whole story,” Wright said. “Once you leave the New York City area, for most people, it’s a TV event. That’s all it is. That’s not their fault. They don’t live there. In fact, sometimes it’s better to be that way. So, (with the exhibit) we get to answer questions that people have about it.”
Wright added, “There’s still an emotional attachment in the New York City area; sometimes, it reminds you too much of it too. It really was a horrific thing.”