Where It All Began…
Our Founding Story
When Kyle Chappell, the so-called “Miracle Marine,” needed help modifying his home to maneuver his wheelchair, Doug DiPaola of Harrington Park was happy to help. DiPaola, 57, founded Homes for Veterans , a nonprofit, precisely for people like Chappell. “I learned there are a lot of injured veterans who need help with things that do not meet the requirements of any VA program,” he said.
Their needs include widening doorways, installing ramps, creating roll-in showers, and modifying kitchens. Chappell, who lives in Boonton, served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he was severely injured in an April 2015 motorcycle accident after he returned to civilian life. He was riding to his job as an electrician at Esposito’s Electric in Denville when it happened.
Chappell lost a leg in the incident. His lungs collapsed. His liver, kidney, and spleen were lacerated. He also was decapitated from within. At home, he faced dangerous realities, given his long medical recuperation. First, he needed a chairlift to get in and out of his mother’s 1950’s Ranch-style house.
“Taking a shower was just dangerous,” Chappell said, “so there needed to be an improvement in some way. I’m still not super mobile so getting in and out of bathtubs is not preferable.” Homes for Veterans modified the Chappell bathroom for free. It removed a vanity, giving the Marine easy access to the sink, and replaced the tub with a roll-in shower.
How Covid-19 Impacted Us
I am Francesca DiPaola, Chair and CEO of Homes for Veterans. My father, Douglas DiPaola, founded Homes for Veterans 10 years ago. I am saddened to say, my dad was taken by the atrocities of COVID19 in April 2020. Although extremely heartbroken, I decided to step up to fulfill my dad’s dream of helping as many veterans as possible. My dad founded this organization as a way to thank our veterans for their sacrifice and service. He insisted the veterans never thank us, that it was our job to serve them. With your help, the help of my mom, my Vice Chair, my board and our incredible community, we will keep my dad’s dream alive and improve the lives of as many disabled veterans as humanly possible.
Meet The Team
Board Of Trustees
Our Late Founder
Doug DiPaola became aware of veteran housing problems in 2009. At the beginning of the recession, he knew a Vietnam veteran that became homeless. After hearing his story, Doug knew he had to do something to help the men and women who served this country have suitable housing.
Doug, who had a background in construction management, worked to form Homes for Veterans. He worked tirelessly to make sure the veterans could live comfortably in their own homes. Doug was always a well respected man in his industry – and everyone he worked with knew whatever he said he was going to do – could be considered done.
He was Vice President of Summit Graphics Inc for over 30 years. A well known estimator and salesman in the printing industry, he helped many people find work and connections. He was known for lifting people up, mentoring those who needed guidance and offering support in all aspects. He believed in going to work with a positive attitude was important – and that translated to the veteran community.
The veterans he helped were more than just people he signed checks for – they became family. He regularly called, texted and even stopped by their homes after work to say hello. Doug was an incredible husband, father, businessman, friend and loved throughout the veteran community. His generous spirit, boisterous personality, genuine patriotism and big heart are only a fraction of the things he is remembered for.
Francesca, Doug’s daughter, graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and is an original board member. She started as the Fundraiser Coordinator and Social Media Manager for Homes for Veterans, bringing local community members and businesses together to support the mission. Early in the pandemic, Francesca's father tragically passed to COVID19 and Francesca was nominated as Chair and CEO to continue on her father’s mission. Prior to that, Francesca worked as a professional actress and acting teacher in New York City and is currently an Account Executive for a tech software company. Francesca has worked closely with many non-profit organizations including Blue Lives Matter, Boy Scouts of America, Stop the Demand Project and Catholic Charities.
Growing up she was raised with a great respect for the men and women in the military and veterans of this country. When Francesca’s dad suddenly passed due to COVID19 – although extremely heartbroken – she decided to step up to fulfill her dad’s dream of helping as many veterans as possible.
Joanne has her Master’s Degree in early childhood education and has been an elementary school teacher for over 35 years, both in New York City and New Jersey. Joanne has taught grades N through 5, in both private and public schools.
She takes pride in teaching her students strong Social Studies skills so that they know the importance of history and how our country was founded and developed. Joanne emphasizes the significance of those who sacrificed their lives to afford us the liberties that we have today.
Doug wanted to involve Joanne in HFV as both of their fathers were WWII Vets, which sparked a shared passion for this great country and the men and women who sacrificed so much for it.
“It’s a wonderful way to let them know they are always in our hearts and minds, and thank them for giving so much to protect us. Homes For Veterans will allow me to continue to support these wonderful men and women.”
Dennis Duddie originally hails from the Bronx, New York. He is a member of a very unique group of veterans who served in two branches of the military. He proudly served in the United States Navy from 1992 to 1994 as a Damage Controlman.
After his enlistment in the United States Navy, Dennis went on to serve in the New Jersey Army National Guard from 1994 to 2001 as a Combat Medical Specialist in the 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment based in River Dale, New Jersey.
After a four year break in service, he returned to the Army National Guard from 2006 to 2010 as a Combat Medical Specialist in the 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment based in Woodbury, New Jersey.
Most recently, Dennis was nominated to serve as the new Commander of Rochelle Park – American Legion Post 170. He assists veterans with benefit claims and helps homeless veterans find a permanent residence.
Dennis was a close friend of our late founder, Douglas DiPaola and continues as an important asset to the Homes for Veterans community.
Ed Gaelick founded PSI Consultants in 1985 to provide a broad range of Life & Health Insurance products and services to individuals and business owners.
Throughout his 36-year career, Ed has earned many of the highest professional honors awarded in the Life & Health Insurance Industry. He is a Life and Qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table with many Court and Top of the Table qualifications as well as many other National Sales and Quality awards. Ed is the go-to insurance professional with his vast knowledge and experience.
When Ed isn’t helping his clients, he’s busy giving to those less fortunate. He says “Supporting our Veterans, the men and women that have given us so much, is the most rewarding thing I do. And after meeting and getting to know Doug DiPaola, it was easy to begin to support Homes for Veterans. Francesca’s passion keeps me there”.