With four young children who love playing outside and a gorgeous view of Sawnee Mountain, Dana Thompson knew her family’s backyard had potential.
But she wanted to do something to make it less “outdoorsy,” and it had to start with their dilapidated deck.
The family’s small deck had no stairs to the yard, was worn and, with some nails sticking out, wasn’t safe for the children to walk on without shoes.
But with other pressing family expenses, a deck makeover wasn’t in the near future.
That’s what Thompson wrote in her winning essay to Operation Homefront Georgia, a nonprofit that held a contest to build a deck for a military family.
Her husband, U.S. Army Capt. Don Thompson, has served two recent overseas tours, ending with a return from Afghanistan this year.
His current assignment is as an operations officer in Macon, to where he commutes five days a week from their west Forsyth home.
Operation Homefront Georgia often focuses on providing for “the morale of the families,” spokeswoman Liz Fichtel said.
For the past two weeks several crews have been on site working to build a new deluxe deck for the Thompsons — and a few more surprises are still to come, Fichtel said.
“What started out as, ‘Let’s just get them some exit steps,’ has turned into an $18,000 deck,” she said.
As of Friday, the large deck has treated wood, white columns and wide stairs with a landing to help the children safely get outside.
“It will allow us to spend more time outside,” Dana Thompson said. “It’s already made coming and going more pleasant.”
The family is all too familiar with “coming and going,” given Don Thompson’s military assignments.
“Just to say good night to the kids is worth the drive for him,” his wife said of the Macon commute.
While he usually arrives home late in the evening, Don Thompson has been able to monitor the progress on the deck.
The deck, backyard landscaping and other project plans will be completed and revealed during a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 9.
While Dana Thompson has been amazed at her deck’s transformation, she is more in awe of the support from several different work crews who have donated their time, money and materials.
“It’s so unbelievably humbling to see that,” she said. “All of these people have gone out of their way to make this happen.”
For Bobby Parks, the project was one he sought out.
President of the Atlanta chapter of North American Deck and Railing Association, Parks came to Operation Homefront looking for families to help. The essay contest was born.
With the Georgia branch of the Associated General Contractors of America, they picked the winner and organized crews to complete the deck work in what Parks likened to a “relay race.”
They found an outpouring of support from local deck-building companies, each giving a day to the cause.
“It’s a very small way that we can say, ‘What you’re doing is appreciated,’” Parks said.
That’s when Dana Thompson interjected.
“This is huge,” she said. “Small is a cup of coffee.”
And she can’t wait to enjoy that cup of coffee on an autumn morning from the peace and quiet of her new deck.