Pictured (left to right) are Justin Crabb, Doug Collins, Sgt. Mark Meunier and Pepper Burruss.
It's one small part of a massive renovation of his Green Bay home, but retired Sgt. Mark Meunier is extremely thankful for it nonetheless.
A handful of members of the Green Bay Packers organization last week completed their work on a new ramp for the front entrance to Meunier's house, which serves as the organization's contribution to the latest project of Rebuilding Together of Greater Green Bay.
The home on North Ashland Avenue was purchased by Meunier and his wife, Dawn, as a fixer-upper, with plans to remodel, sell and relocate. But after a 19-year military career in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard, Meunier sustained so many injuries serving in the Persian Gulf War, Somalia and Iraq that he could no longer work on his house, let alone get around in it.
Since first hearing of Meunier's story in the Green Bay Press-Gazette last fall, dozens of local business and residents have donated resources, building supplies and work time to provide the Meunier house with new windows, roofing, plumbing fixtures and the like. The Rebuilding Together project has made it possible not only for the Meuniers not to be forced to sell a partially rebuilt home in a depressed economic market, but for them to live in it long term.
"We moved up here just for the Green Bay Packers," said Meunier, who is originally from Neenah while his wife is from Kewaunee, two communities both roughly a half-hour from Green Bay. "To move out of here would have been devastating. This is an unbelievable dream come true."
Meunier's multiple knee surgeries, severe arthritis, and ankle, heel and back problems - all a result of various shotgun and explosion wounds sustained during his time overseas - have made stairs almost impossible to navigate, and that's where many of the indoor renovations to his home, and the ramp out front, came in.
The bathroom and laundry are now on the first floor of the house, and the ramp out front has replaced a rather tall staircase to an elevated front door, which Meunier can use to get in and out of the house now (he's supposed to walk with a cane, though he stubbornly avoids it and makes due) and perhaps later, when recovering from knee replacement surgeries he's too young to have at present.
"If I want to be able to carry my children someday," said Meunier, who has not yet started a family with Dawn, "it's not possible with stairs in the house."
In a previous Rebuilding Together project, the Packers had helped build a ramp for a local man's home, so when the need arose again for this project, it was the natural spot to make a contribution.
Members of the Packers organization who spent much of last week building the wood-deck ramp - whose gradual climb goes up from the driveway and turns 180 degrees back toward the front door - were Pepper Burruss, Head Athletic Trainer; Doug Collins, Director of Corporate Security; Justin Crabb, Building Security Supervisor; Corey Wentland, Maintenance Assistant; Matt Frantz, Intern Athletic Trainer; and Mike Dabeck, husband of Ann Dabeck, Payroll and Human Resources Assistant. Mark Husen, an athletic trainer with Bellin Sports Medicine, also contributed to the effort.
Burruss noted all the Packers departments represented on the construction team helped to cover for their colleagues' absence to work on the project, and the crew used tools loaned by the team's maintenance department.
Prior to the ramp, much of the other work on the home was done on Saturday, April 4, when Meunier estimated as many as 90 people were on-site fixing or replacing something. Now, about all that remains to be done is work on cementing, fencing and landscaping.
"I'm just very, very thankful," Meunier said. "Extreme patriotism is the only way to explain it.
"It's more than you could ever hope for, that's for sure. It's like a brand new home."