Volunteers improve home of WWII nurse

More than 100 people came out to Marjorie Morel's house on the morning of Friday, Sept. 22 and immediately began weeding her gardens, tearing up her deck and chopping branches off of some of her largest shade trees. The widespread destruction was not a cruel prank on a 97-year-old woman, but rather the first step of a total restoration of her yard by volunteers from the Home Depot and Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church.

The fixing up was scheduled as part of The Home Depot Foundation's Celebration of Service Campaign, where local stores volunteered time and materials to help veterans at home. According to Scott Tavegia, a supervisor at Home Depot, Morel was chosen as this year's recipient due to her service as a nurse in the U.S. Navy during World War II.


"There are not many World War II veterans around still," Tavegia said. "It is our pleasure to be able to bless her and honor her by taking care of her home and giving it the color and enjoyment it once had."

Even with the dozens of volunteers, all remained busy throughout the entire day, as they replaced every garden bed, weeded areas, planted new plants, built walkways throughout her backyard, tore down and replaced the deck, raked up fallen branches, brush and leaves, trimmed dangerous tree branches, and repainted some of her deck furniture.

According to Amanda O'Hara, a Home Depot employee who spearheaded the restoration efforts, after the day of outdoor restoration, more volunteers would return to make the inside of her home more accessible as well, including leveling floors in the basement and kitchen.

To prep for the day of service, O'Hara toured Morel's home back in July, making note of all the needed improvements and estimating how many supplies would be needed. She said Home Depot doesn't track how many items get donated, but managers are encouraged to do the job as completely as possible in order to give back.

O'Hara said it was Morel's life story that first leapt out at her, while she was researching possible veterans.

"I thought it was awesome because it was a female," O'Hara said. "She was a single parent, because her husband died when they were all young. She was a Carroll County resident almost all her life."

Today, Morel lives with her daughter, Ann, in the 107-year-old house that has been her home for most of her life. Ann said they were shocked and in disbelief when they heard about the donation.

"We were so happy, are you kidding? It's just unbelievable," Ann said. "It's a nice tribute to her. Navy nurses in World War II didn't get as much recognition back then."

Ann said it can sometimes be difficult to get assistance for her mother, since she didn't serve in a combat role.

Out front, Marjorie had a collection of memorabilia from her time in the war, including a signed letter from President Truman, and her original nurse's uniform, set out so the volunteers could take a brief trip through her history. People stopped by throughout the day of work to look through her old photographs and other items, surprised by the great condition everything was still in.

Among all the work, Ann said, she was most excited about the new gardens that had been planted around the entire house.

"They've got a nice herb garden built," Ann said. "This is great for us, since I cook a lot. I've never seen so many nice, happy people. They're really sweet and hardworking and fun."