Actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise is transforming houses into “forever homes” for severely wounded veterans and their families. In a talk on May 21 at Benjamin Moore’s showroom at the D&D Building, Sinise shared with moderator George Oliphant, of “George to the Rescue,” about his partnership with Benjamin Moore and the mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation, a nonprofit formed in 2011 to help vets, first responders and their families via a variety of programs. The foundation’s work through its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) provides custom-designed Smart Homes for severely wounded vets.
“It’s been a privilege for me to meet thousands of military people over the years. They inspire me every single day,” shared Sinise. Sinise and his team “build these specially adapted homes [to] provide independence for somebody who has some of their independence taken away,” such as vets who have been badly burned or have lost limbs in combat. “We want to make these homes special for them, to address their particular needs.”
Gary Sinise, George Oliphant and the Benjamin Moore team
Tyler Wiser, Gary Sinise and George Oliphant
The customized houses, which meet VA standards (which are often above ADA standards) are designed to address everyday challenges with features like elevators, iPad-directed retractable cooktops, cabinets and shelving. So far, there are 35 projects that have either been completed or are underway, with the first homes constructed for vets with multiple amputations.
“The more in-kind donations that we receive—from companies like Benjamin Moore, providing all our paint, all our stain, exterior and interior—that’s a huge thing,” said Sinise. The foundation is also in need of interior design services, as well as lighting fixtures, plumbing, windows, and doors, among other in-kind donations. Local help is especially appreciated, too: “We want to bring the community together around these service members,” said Sinise. “There’s such pride there.” Designers and companies who would like to get involved can learn more online.