For Vince Reynolds, Friday morning was a pretty good start to Memorial Day weekend.
A dedication ceremony was held at his Lemont home where a hardscape and patio area was unveiled in his backyard.
And it was with thanks to 19 students from the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology who were the masterminds behind the design and construction.
Reynolds, a retired Army staff sergeant and a 2006 Bellefonte Area graduate who also attended CPI, was the recipient of the hardscape through a campaign that builds them for wounded soldiers.
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What’s called the Heroscape Program is an initiative through EP Henry — a New Jersey-based hardscape and patio pavement company — that provides hardscapes to eligible wounded soldiers.
Reynolds was a part of the U.S. Army’s first Battalion and 23rd Infantry who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first, he said, was in 2009 and 2010. The other tour was in 2012, but it was cut short after he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost a part of his left leg.
EP Henry annually partners with the Builders Association of Central Pennsylvania and CPI. Students there design and build sets for awarded applicants.
The Heroscape Program has provided hardscapes for 59 families, of which CPI was involved in 3
Rob Daniels, of EP Henry, said the Heroscape Program has provided hardscapes for 59 families, of which CPI was involved in three.
They first built a hardscape at the American Legion in Ferguson Township and built the second last year for Army veteran Corey Mills, of Tyrone.
“It’s cool to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” said Taylor Shook, a Penns Valley Area senior who attends CPI. “This was something I think he would have built himself, but we were able to step in and include the amenities he wanted, and a little more. We knew he was a family man, and wanted to build something that would suit him and his family.”
Shook designed the layout that would fit the contour of Reynolds’ backyard, while a group of other students took measurements, developed a computer design, hauled in material, excavated the area, and built the hardscape from the ground up.
It included a fire pit and putting green.
“Basically we knew this was going to be much more than just a patio for him,” Shook said.
And it is.
The support has been amazing and a little overwhelming, but I look at something like this and feel really blessed. This patio space is a place where my family will live, and kids will grow up, so it means a lot
Vince Reynolds, Army vet and Heroscape Project recipient
“The support has been amazing and a little overwhelming, but I look at something like this and feel really blessed,” Reynolds said. “This patio space is a place where my family will live, and kids will grow up, so it means a lot.”
Upon applying for Heroscape eligibility, Reynolds said he made it a priority to request a fire pit.
He said the idea came from inspiration from his 6-year-old daughter who likes to make s’mores over a fire.
CPI students began building the hardscape about two weeks ago and finished on Thursday.
“I’ve been doing this for three years, and it’s hard to put into words how it feels,” Shook said. “You see the appreciation of people for what you’re helping them with. It’s just really nice to be a part of something that can change someone’s life.”