HeroHomes, a non-profit organization, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday to hand over the keys to a finished home to U.S. Army Veteran Vainuupo “AV” Avegalio. Avegalio was a homeless retired U.S. Army Sergeant who spent his income helping other veterans battling post-traumatic stress. The organization’s donation and help from contractors and local businesses made it possible to fund all of the building costs and furnishings for Avegalio’s new home in Purcellville, Virginia.
Avegalio is an amateur poet and visual artist whose work deals with war experience and trauma. Art and poetry are his way of dealing with guilt, anger, depression, and suicidal ideation which coupled with multiple injuries sustained while serving overseas- ended his 12 year military career. He now travels the United States and its territories conducting art and poetry workshops with at risk youth, current and former inmates, first responders, veterans, and those suffering from mental illness in hope of bettering their quality of life.
He was sleeping in his car while traveling across the country to help veterans in need and even used his money from the Army for his workshops and supplies. Avegalio has performed his readings across the United States and just recently hit the big screen in his debut in the HBO documentary, We Are Not Done Yet.
Avegalio, who served five tours of duty, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, moves into the 2,900-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home custom-built by homebuilder Brookfield Residential. Brookfield Residential, based in the mid-Atlantic region, donated 100 percent of their management time to the project. The company also reached out to each vendor to find reduced costs, and in many cases labor and material were completely donated.
Avegalio said he hopes to use the basement in his new home, which has been renovated to his art studio, to continue his work helping others. HeroHomes is a nonprofit established in 2017 that gives veterans the ability to live independently and to provide for their future. Co-founders Jason Brownell and Matt Lowers met Avegalio through the third HeroHomes recipient William Slease. They said they hope that by providing Avegalio with permanent housing, it will help him expand his mission of helping others.