Tim Combs’ Americans For Independent Living
Tim Combs was already helping people out where he could. The seasoned contractor had been building and renovating residential homes for 25 years, and was prone to discounting or donating some of his services to clients struggling to meet their budget. But it wasn’t enough. A niggling voice in his head told him he could be doing more.
So in 2015, Tim did some soul-searching, and found his purpose in helping veterans.
The small community in and around Tim’s Waterloo, Iowa home has a veteran population of roughly 12-13 thousand. Local and national media stories of the challenges faced by veterans transitioning from service to civilian life seemed to scream out to Tim on a regular basis.
The thought of these men and women returning from combat, only to fall through that large gap between active duty and civilian life didn’t sit well with him.
He prayed for guidance, and the idea for Americans For Independent Living was born.
Once Tim decided to dedicate himself to providing homes and supportive programs for homeless veterans, the path before him became clear. “The more I started into that,” he says, “the more doors started opening.” Within months, someone donated a small home. Tim began renovations, working toward opening its doors.
Things were off to a strong start for Tim’s new 501(c) 3, but the non-profit world is a fierce one, and he was going to need more help. In January 2016, another news story caught his eye and sparked a flicker of hope. It was a long-shot he knew, but still…. it could work.
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was coming to town – almost. He was coming to Des Moines, Iowa, about a two hour drive from Tim. With Tim’s wife strongly encouraging him to give it a try, Tim found the contact information for Trump’s campaign manager, and sent an email.
He’d do anything he could to help, Tim wrote to the campaign manager, if he could have a moment of Mr. Trump’s time, to tell him about his work and perhaps enlist his support.
The following day Tim’s phone rang with a response, and Tim immediately drove to Des Moines.
He was underdressed for the frigid January temperature, but still stood in line for five hours, hoping the campaign manager didn’t forget him. Finally he broke, and gave up. But as he slowly walked away, his gut told him to give it a few more minutes – and then his phone rang again.
Five hours of waiting now exploded into several moments of whirlwind activity. Tim was escorted into a back door and given priority seating with veterans. He met three Navy SEALS who were there to support Mr. Trump, and one of them promised to give Tim’s flyer to the next president.
Tim went home and waited, and then his phone rang again.
“I hope you’re sitting down,” the voice said, “because Mr. Trump wants to meet you, and I think he’s bringing a check.”
Sure enough, when Tim arrived at the designated meeting spot, Donald Trump came through. With a warm greeting and words of encouragement, flanked by his family, Donald Trump presented Tim Combs with a hundred thousand dollar check, payable to Americans For Independent Living.
It set everything on fire from that point,” Tim says.
The generous donation, coupled with the ensuing media spotlight, changed everything for Tim.
Community support intensified. He finished renovating the donated house, and opened its doors to three veterans. He then linked them with supportive services. People came forward to help in any way they could, from cooking dinner for the veterans, to donating furniture and clothes, and cash.
With Tim’s help, the veterans were introduced to people who told them about benefits they never knew they were eligible for. They received career counseling and help applying for jobs, and they regained their sense of purpose. Ultimately, they became independent from these services, having found their footing in life again. He then welcomed three more veterans in.
Then came the next overwhelming offer.
For three years, a former nursing home had been sitting on the market. Recently, Tim went to look at it, eyeballing it as his dream purchase for conversion to one great, big, all-inclusive veterans’ resource center. He saw the property as a place to house roughly 80 veterans, provide them with a social and professional gathering place, bring in supportive services, and help them fight for their personal happiness they earned while defending ours. But with a 7 figure asking price, he knew it was way out of reach – or was it?
Once again, good will turned Tim’s way. The owners of the 4200 sq ft property had heard of Tim and his mission to help veterans, and wanted to help. In the end, Tim purchased it for just $25,000.
It’s been less than 3 years since Tim Combs embarked on his personal mission to help veterans.
With just an idea and his own skills, and a community that supports him, he’s already helped once-homeless veterans become homeowners. He’s caught the eye of the man who is now the most powerful person in the country and he’s secured a site to make his vision of a veterans’ resource center a reality.
Americans for Independent Living has a strong foundation, but needs more help to realize its full vision. The property intended as a veterans’ resource center needs over 2 million dollars of work before it is suitable for that purpose. Once that happens, Tim plans to open similar centers across the country. Ambitious, for sure. But Tim is determined to see it happen, and we want our community of readers, listeners, influencers, and patriots to help him make it happen. Learn more about Americans For Independent Living below and donate to their cause.
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