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Local Navy vet makes the American Dream possible for those in need

Posted at 9:42 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 21:42:25-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - It’s a sunny Saturday morning in the South Norfolk Neighborhood of Chesapeake.

And some workers are hard at work trying to make sure a new home is ready by the holidays. The difference here is these folks are not getting paid to build this house - they are here because they want to be.

They’re building the home for the Habitat for Humanity program, and their lead volunteer is retired Navy vet Dennis Plank.

“Dennis is amazing. He’s been here for over 10 years; he’s the backbone of our volunteers.”

“I met Dennis 53 years ago at the Naval Academy. We were classmates and company mates together," said Dan Lear, Director of Development for the local Habitat chapter.

In fact, there is a whole group of Navy vets like Dennis and Dan who defended our country and who now continue to work together to make the American Dream affordable for a local family.

This team build six houses a year in Hampton Roads, so the charity relies heavily on Dennis and his team of volunteers.

“He keeps a journal of all the houses we work on, so we can go back on his journals [and] he can tell us what house we worked on and what we did that day; he has it in his journal. So, he’s really committed to Habitat."

And it’s that commitment that earned him a People Taking Action Award.

Related: People Taking Action: Local women make masks for military members!

"It’s a team effort - a huge team effort. Not one person makes this happen. It’s the whole team," Dennis said as he accepted the award.

We also surprised him with a $300 Visa gift card courtesy of our community partner, Southern Bank.

"Holy cow!" he exclaimed. “This will go to a very good cause, and you’re looking at it; if you turn around, you’re looking at it.”

And while the money will go to good cause, it’s the sweat equity Dennis puts in that is truly priceless.

“We’d be lost without him.”

To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.