FUQUAY-VARINA — One message read, “Thank you for all you have done for this country.”
Another proclaimed, “May God bless this house always!”
About 100 people armed with Sharpies and good intentions scribbled messages of pride, encouragement and gratitude on the wooden frames of an unfinished attic in Fuquay-Varina on Wednesday.
Some had never met the soon-to-be homeowner, Cpl. Nathan Jakubisin, but they felt a special connection with the wounded Marine.
“This is something that is very meaningful for many different people,” said Mikkel Thompson, director of construction operations at Pulte Homes.
The “notes of love” were written as part of a bigger project: designing and building a new home for Jakubisin and his family.
It’s a collaboration between the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County and Operation: Coming Home, an organization that provides new, mortgage-free homes to wounded veterans. PulteGroup is donating materials and labor for the project as part of its Built to Honor program.
“(Nathan) is such a great guy and has an amazing attitude, especially for his age,” Thompson said.
Jakubisin, 25, was injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. He lost his right leg, and his left leg and his hands were severely injured.
But Jakubisin says he was lucky. Despite his injuries, he plans to return to snowboarding, one of his many passions as a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie.
He might not be as good as he used to, he said, but he wants to give it a try.
“There’s a lot of people who have it a lot worse,” Jakubisin said.
He said receiving a new home will lift a burden off of him and his wife and their son, Mason, who is almost 1.
“I really can’t say how grateful I am,” Jakubisin said. “I can say ‘thank you’ a million times, and that wouldn’t even be enough.”
He said he looks forward to making little notches in the home’s wooden door frames every year, marking how much Mason grows as time passes.
“It will bring our family together,” Jakubisin said. “A new house means less stress and worry in our lives. It means happiness, joy and shared memories.”
Jakubisin is a native of Ohio, but he said he is looking forward to moving south. He joked that the opportunity to get a free home is great, but the North Carolina weather might be even greater.
“My wife always wanted to live in North Carolina, and we wanted a place that wasn’t too city and wasn’t too country,” Jakubisin said. “The area really reminds me of home. It’s full of small-town people at heart.”
The house is expected to be finished by Sept. 11. Most of the home’s features will be a surprise for Jakubisin and his family.
Those written messages will be waiting for them. Employees of companies involved with the home’s construction wrote the notes.
Cindy Emde, who works for PulteGroup, said writing a message for Jakubisin was an emotional experience. Her father and her husband served in the armed forces.
“I’m just very proud of the men and women that are in the service,” Emde said. “They are making such huge sacrifices, and can be taken for granted.”
Wanbaugh: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @TaylorWanbaugh