Volunteers spruce up veteran’s Gilroy home

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LATE VET’S HOUSE Casey Leppanen (right) of the Sharks Foundation rolls on a layer of paint on historic house in Gilroy. Photo: Robert Eliason

By Wallace Baine

Last Friday, on a crisp and sunny winter morning, about two dozen volunteers gathered at an address on Rosanna Street in Gilroy. Their mission was to paint a house. 

The vibe was upbeat, with laughter and easy conversations, refreshments and music. 

But one person was missing. 

The small Queen Anne-style house, which was built in the 1880s, was purchased 25 years ago by Dave Galtman, a World War II veteran and a familiar figure in the neighborhood. On Jan. 3, at age 97, Galtman died. 

“Up until November of 2018 (when he was 96), he was walking to the Gilroy library, three hours a day, Monday through Saturday,” said Bob Galtman, Dave’s son. “He used to love walking to the library.”

The volunteers were here on Jan. 24 as part of the latest project from Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley, a non-profit whose mission is to provide home repairs and maintenance at no cost to the homeowner. RTSV often works with corporate sponsors to provide the materials and volunteers, and on this day, that partner was the Sharks Foundation, the charitable arm of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. RTSV’s jurisdiction is all of Santa Clara County, and in 2019, the organization provided repairs to almost 400 homes across the county via more than 19,000 hours of volunteer service.

Rebuilding Together does not work exclusively with veterans, but the Sharks Foundation wanted to do something for vets. 

“We help anyone who is (low-income), disabled in some way, or otherwise can’t manage their home repairs,” said program manager Sam Kennard on site.

Bob Galtman, 69, lived with his dad at the Rosanna Street house for the last 11 years of Dave’s life. He will now carry on alone at the house.

His father earned six meritorious medals during World War II, and established an honored family tradition of military service. Bob is himself a veteran, having served during the Vietnam era, as did his three brothers and others in subsequent generations. 

Rebuilding Together and the Sharks Foundation began working with the Galtmans long before Jan. 25. During Dave Galtman’s last year, the organizations helped install bannisters inside the house to help with Dave’s mobility, as well as an electric lift on the front porch of the house. Since Dave’s death, the lift has been removed.

“They’ve really done a super job,” said Bob Galtman, as volunteers were swiftly applying coats of Plymouth Gray to his house. “They asked me if they could take the lift to help another veteran, and I was like, ‘Absolutely.’ That’s the right thing to do.”

For information on home-repair assistance programs at Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley, visit rebuildingtogethersv.org.

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