TEN MILE, Tenn. — From donations to prayers, a church in Ten Mile has now received enough money and donated materials to help to build a new home for a Vietnam veteran. Virgil, 75 years old, attends every Sunday service at Luminary United Methodist Church. He is well-known in his church, sitting in the same spot every weekend.
"He sits in that same corner in church and every once in a while, you hear 'Amen.' That's Virgil," said Bill Hughes, a member of the church and friend of Virgil.
The church community loves Virgil, but they also want Virgil to love where he lives.
"We would pass that house and go, 'That can't be good,'" Hughes said.
Virgil has been living in a home deemed unsafe. Trash litters much of the living areas, and the structure itself is in squalor.
"The roof is caving in. You walk in the door and the kitchen if you want to call it that is on a dirt floor," Hughes said.
Virgil's only source of income comes from his social security check. He cannot afford much or anything at all.
"He has not had running water for 7 years. He comes to the church to take his showers a couple of times a week," Hughes said.
The church community started a GoFundMe with a goal to raise $60,000 to help build a brand new home for the Vietnam veteran.
"Virgil is a Marine Corp. veteran and he gave all of this up for his country — he deserves more than this," Hughes said.
He said Virgil barely spends any time in his small, decaying shack. Hughes hopes sooner than later Virgil can have a place to actually call home.
"No one should have to live like that. No one. Especially a human being that God created, and he's a Marine Corp veteran in the United States of America," Hughes said.
Hughes said he hopes to start construction on the new home by the end of the year. Anyone who wants to contribute to the fundraiser can donate online.