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Cowboys legend Darren Woodson helps veteran Breana Austin place an American flag at her homesite.

Home ownership has long been a symbol of the American Dream.  For too many of this country’s military heroes, the goal of becoming a homeowner is often out of reach.  To bring awareness to this issue on Veterans Day, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas partnered with Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Texas Instruments (TI) and other local corporations to host a very special Unite for Change initiative.  Over the course of 10 build dates, volunteers from TI, Energy Future Holdings and its family of companies including Luminant and TXU Energy, and La Quinta Inns & Suites will unite to complete building a home for a local veteran, Breana Austin, and her young son, Terran.

“Home ownership is an important milestone for any individual – one that promotes financial stability,” said Terri Grosh, TI worldwide employee engagement manager. “Too many veterans and their families have been unable to acquire an asset that serves as a foundation for stability.  Breana Austin’s story is a perfect example.  We think the men and women who work to safeguard our nation deserve a secure future.”

Austin, who was born and raised in Dallas, has served as a Patient Admin Specialist in the Texas Army National Guard since 2010.

Wednesday, November 11th marked a key day in the construction of her home, which is in Dallas’ close-knit Joppa community.  Volunteers were joined by Dallas Cowboys legend and newly-minted member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor Darren Woodson to raise the walls on the structure. The Austin family will receive the keys to their new home upon its completion in February.

“I’m proud to partner with United Way and Habitat for Humanity in providing a home for our heroes,” said Woodson.  “We’re coming together as a community to serve those who’ve so bravely served us.  They were there when we needed them and now it’s our turn to give back.”

“Veterans can face unique financial challenges when returning to civilian life- often struggling to find good jobs and secure stable homes,” said Jennifer Sampson, President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “Through collaboration with our corporate and community partners, United Way is committed to providing financial education and solutions to those who have served and sacrificed so much on our behalf, putting them on the path to long-term financial stability.  It’s an important investment in the men and women who put everything on the line for our country, and in the strength and security of our society as a whole.”

Additional collaborative events this fall highlight United Way’s focus on veterans. On November 18, United Way will host a private Financial Empowerment Toolkit Training for local nonprofits to help them better mentor clients and veterans on best financial practices.  And on October 27, United Way held an impactful networking event called “Chat. Connect. Repeat.” which brought together nonprofits, corporations and community stakeholders to discuss solutions for supporting struggling veterans.

With TI as the presenting sponsor, Unite for Change is a six-event, area-wide Community Impact Series focused on improving financial stability, education and health across North Texas.  Unite for Change will engage many local corporate partners in meaningful volunteer efforts over the next six months. The projects will help reach United Way’s 10-year community goals: preparing at least 60 percent of all kids to graduate ready to succeed, moving 250,000 people out of poverty permanently, and improving health across the region.

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