Marcellus' Sgt. Guerin is given keys to his new palace

The words "welcome home" had a special ring to it Saturday when Sgt. Jeffrey Guerin opened the door to his new home on Abounding Way in Marcellus.

As he wheeled his girlfriend Jennifer Toteda over the threshold, the door closed for a brief moment so that the couple could take in the fact that yes, indeed, this was really happening.

"It's incredible, beyond belief," Guerin said. "First, with the fundraiser and now this ... it's just nice to know that we are now able to get started in life. Before we were just waiting for this, and waiting for that, and we'd say after this surgery or that. But now we don't have to wait anymore."

The ranch style house was built especially for Guerin and his special needs through the Homes for Our Troops organization, a not for profit dedicated to making life easier for wounded veterans when they return from serving their country at no cost, and no mortgage, to the veteran.

The specially adapted residence specifically addresses the day to day challenges Guerin has, and provide him with maximum independence in the place he can call "his home." The home was also made possible by the generous donations of people in the Marcellus community and surrounding area. The community raised more than $25,000 for Guerin's home.

Guerin received the keys at a special ceremony on the home site at 10 a.m. Oct. 24. The ceremony was attended by local dignitaries, members of the community, people who helped build the home and Guerin's friends and family.

The house, according to Brian Reed, project manager of the Homes for Our Troops organization, was built in record time -- 87 days, from start to finish, which according to Reed says a lot about the community.

"I've never seen such support," Reed said. "Everyone, from the builder, to the donations, right down to today ... and because of this I just have to say, I love New York, and if it wasn't for the Yankees I'd probably move here," said Reed, joking with the audience.

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