By Mark Segraves and Christian Paz, NBC4 – Washington, November 12, 2018
Sgt. Juanita Eccles was on duty when Pfc. Thomas Pressley first stumbled into a police station asking for her help.
Eccles recalled, “He comes in and he just says, ‘please, please, can I get some help?'”
Pressley, a Korean War veteran, was hungry and haggard, Eccles remembered. She used her own money to buy Pressley some food that day but realized that his troubles ran deeper than that when she visited Pressley’s home.
“The mold was higher than your hip. And the floors you couldn’t walk on because you’d fall through. The contractor went upstairs and said ‘the toilet is sinking through the floor’,” she said.
Pressley’s house was in complete disrepair. Photos of Pressley’s old home showed crumbling ceilings, dirt and grime on almost every surface and paint chipping from the walls.
And on top of that: Eccles said she learned from a nephew of Pressley’s that the veteran had been a victim of financial elder abuse and his entire life savings had been stolen.
So Eccles resolved to fix the situation. Eccles partnered with D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau and local non-profit Purple Heart Homes, which works to improve the lives of veterans experiencing housing insecurity, and corporate sponsors like Home Depot and Comcast, a parent company of News4, to repair and refurbish Pressley’s home.
“This is a godsend. Money can’t buy this when someone has that kind of love,” Pressley said.
And finally, on Monday, Pressley got the keys to his new home in the same building he had been living in for 56 years.
“I feel like this is part of heaven on earth,” he said.