EIGHTY FOUR, Penn. — This past May, 84 Lumber received dozens of nominations from across the country for its third annual Operation Appreciation contest, which offers an $8,400 store credit to three military members or families in need of building supplies. A fourth winner was also selected this year thanks to donations from many of the company’s employees. The contest ran throughout May in honor of Military Appreciation Month.
The idea to recognize a fourth winner came from Mark Mollico, Western Office Director at 84 Lumber. In a memo he wrote to his colleagues, Mollico emphasized and praised the company’s willingness to support those in need. Following the example of owner and President Maggie Hardy Magerko, Mollico challenged associates to go above and beyond for a good cause. Within just a few weeks, $8,400 had been raised.
“I was beyond proud of our associates who donated funds for an additional Operation Appreciation winner,” said Mollico. “That tremendous teamwork will give another military family some peace of mind.”
84 Lumber’s Marketing team, along with Mollico and other associates, helped choose this year’s winners:
Ken Drombosky — Army veteran, Boardman, Ohio
While undergoing treatment for a fractured back in 1968, Ken Drombosky was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, where he led an infantry platoon with the First Air Cavalry. He was eventually diagnosed with cancer after frequent exposure to Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide that was used by U.S. military forces in Vietnam. He also copes with hearing loss and PTSD.
Drombosky is considered to be fully disabled and is a member of the Disabled American Veterans organization in Austintown, Ohio. But despite his struggles, he continues to focus on the positives in his life.
“There are many members [of the organization] who are a lot worse than me,” he said. “I have a loving and supportive family and I have a full life.”
He and his wife plan to use their $8,400 for various projects around their house, starting with repairing the plumbing in their basement bathroom.
Casey Nally — Army veteran, Winslow, Ind.
After 9/11, many men and women felt a strong desire to join our armed forces. Casey Nally was one of them. In the years following the tragedy, Nally served three combat tours with the Army — two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was injured twice in Iraq while on different deployments and subsequently received two Purple Hearts. He also battled cancer while in the service.
Nally now suffers from extreme PTSD and anxiety yet still manages to put others first, starting with his 9-year-old son Logan. Whether it’s for sports, school or anything in between, he ensures that Logan has everything he needs to do well and live a happy life. In years past, Nally put his own life on hold to care for his two grandfathers — both veterans — before they passed in 2017. He now dedicates much of his time to looking after his grandmother, who’s in hospice. Nally and Logan are residing in a 1970s mobile home that is quickly falling apart, particularly the roof. With his $8,400, Nally can repair the roof and attend to other needs to make a better living environment for himself and his son.
Nic McDonagh — Army veteran, Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
Nic McDonagh has been with his wife RaeAnn since they were both 14. They stayed connected after high school when RaeAnn went to college and McDonagh enlisted in the Army. After returning from a deployment to Afghanistan, he and RaeAnn were married and eventually relocated to a military base in South Korea, where McDonagh was serving his second deployment.
RaeAnn, who is legally blind, faced the challenge of navigating a new area and an unfamiliar culture with limited eyesight. She found a full-time job in child development but soon discovered that her vision was getting worse, forcing her and her husband to return to the U.S. early to meet with a specialist. McDonagh and RaeAnn would like to start a family, but they first will use their $8,400 to complete different projects around their house to make it easier for RaeAnn when she loses her vision entirely.
Brian Smith — Army veteran, Richmond Hill, Ga.
To say that Brian Smith was a career military member would be an understatement. After 23 years in the Army and five deployments (two of which were voluntary), he dedicated much of his life to ensuring the safety of countless others. A selfless person by nature, Smith has since been looking after and supporting his wife — who is medically retired — and her two children.
The family moved into their first house together on Thanksgiving Day 2017 and immediately faced their first challenge: a water leak that ruined their wood floors. Since then, Smith has been working every day to repair and update the house, a task that has exhausted much time and money. With the $8,400, he will have more resources to complete his project and make the house more comfortable for himself and his family.
“We received many inspiring stories through this year’s Operation Appreciation campaign,” said Amy Smiley, VP of Marketing at 84 Lumber. “It was hard to choose between them, but we couldn’t be more honored to give these four winners a well-deserved reward for their service and sacrifice.”