Just when Marco Dominguez was most cynical about the world, his cynicism was thrown upside down. He and his wife and three children received a custom-built Stapleton home with no mortgage for as long as they want to live there.
“It’s amazing,” Dominguez says. “The house itself is amazing, the features are state-of-the-art, the amenities are beautiful, the area is great, the neighbors are amazing, the kids in the neighborhood are about the same age, there are block parties, everybody barbeques. It’s Rockwellian, but modern times. It’s better than I even imagined.”
While serving as an army sergeant in Iraq from 2004 to 2007, Dominguez received two Purple Hearts. He was severely wounded by a roadside bomb, causing burns on 20 percent of his body, a traumatic brain injury and nerve damage that rendered his left side weak.
After returning home to his wife and son in San Antonio, Texas, in 2007, he encountered invisible wounds—the emotional and stressful burden of fitting back into American life after being at war. He felt alienated and useless, suddenly going from a hero to a disabled citizen. Every job seemed incomparable to the adrenaline and pride of fighting for our country. Plus, violence, which is taught as one of the best and most appropriate responses during war, has no place in normal life. His marriage was on the verge of ending, he missed most of his oldest child’s life, and he couldn’t find work. The cynicism grew.
They had two more kids, a girl and a boy. They couldn’t pay their mortgage, and this past year their house foreclosed. The cynicism fully settled in. Marco’s wife, Tammi, suggested they apply for Operation Finally Home, a national nonprofit that connects builders, suppliers and supporters with wounded, ill or injured veterans, or surviving spouses and their families.
Desperate for a fresh start, the Dominguez family became interested in living in Colorado, so Operation Finally Home sent his bio to Wonderland Homes, which had reached out wanting to help a veteran. Wonderland Homes chose the family as the recipient of the home and planned a surprise announcement. While on a visit to Colorado, the Dominguez family went to an Avalanche hockey game, where it was announced on the Jumbotron they would receive a brand-new custom-built home by the developer Wonderland Homes in the Conservatory Green neighborhood of Stapleton. And just like that, their lives were changed.
“If you’re looking for a fresh start, there’s probably no better place in the country than Stapleton—it’s near the VA [Veterans Administration], the local transit, employment hubs [and it has] the neighborhood feel and amenities,” says Steve Phua, president and CEO of Wonderland Homes.
The home, valued at $529,000, will only cost the family the homeowner’s association fee and utilities. Wonderland Homes included the Dominguez family in the design and building process so it was customized to their taste. And it’s not just any home—it has unique features to accommodate his disabilities, including a handicap shower and widened doorways to fit a wheelchair.
The house was move-in ready. Suppliers partnered with Wonderland Homes to donate everything including furniture, kitchen supplies, bikes, barbecues and more. Stapleton Home Services donated free housecleaning for life. On move-in day, neighbors welcomed the Dominguez family with a banner with best wishes.