Air Force veteran gets new house

Habitat for Humanity of Bedford builds home for Swope

Mirror photo by Russ O’Reilly / U.S. Air Force veteran Jeff Swope (left) greets friends at his home at 601 Wall St., Saxton. The home was a Habitat for Humanity project.

SAXTON — After years of renting apartments and living in a trailer since he was relieved from service, a disabled United States Air Force veteran finally has a home, built for him by community volunteers.

“I am blessed by God to have so many friends and family who participated in this,” said Jeff Swope. “A lot of people took time aside from their regular jobs to do this.”

The house at 1601 Wall St., Saxton, was the latest project by Habitat for Humanity of Bedford County.

Swope, 54, a 1981 graduate of Bedford Area High School, served 10 years of active duty and served at Air National Guard bases in Alaska, New York and Germany. He moved to Virginia to work with special needs children after he was relieved from the military, but he came back to Pennsylvania in 2006. Swope currently lives in a 14-by-80-foot trailer in Everett.

Because of injuries resulting from vehicle crashes, including one collision with a drunken driver while stationed at an Air Force base, he receives 50 percent military disability pay.

Hundreds of volunteer hours, material donations and monetary donations were poured into the construction of the house, Bedford Habitat for Humanity Board President Chris Bullington said.

About 20 people, including volunteers and Swope’s family, gathered Saturday at the house for a prayerful

home dedication and open house.

“It’s incredible to think this was completed with almost 100 percent volunteers, aside from the electrical work and foundation,” Bullington said. “We hope to have Jeff moved in two weeks from now.”

The ranch-style house is about 1,400 square feet and includes a basement. It will be sold to Swope for a fraction of its appraised value, Bullington said. And Swope plans to pay it through a loan from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Among the volunteers were members of Stonerstown Church of the Brethren who provided meals for the workers and vocational-technical students from Tussey Mountain Junior/Senior High School, who helped with the construction.

“It’s good to see Jeff get his own place,” said Scott Swope, Jeff’s brother. “He’s been living in apartments and small places since he got out of the military. Now he has his own place to settle down.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435. Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan contributed to this report.