OC group helps veterans make a difference in community

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A nonprofit founded by an Army veteran in Orange County contributes to the the community with projects such as helping organizations for the homeless.

One by one Manny Martinez carefully measures and cuts pieces of wood which will ultimately be used to make a major impact.

The value of the labor is not lost on him.

"It's humbling for the opportunity," Martinez said. "I never really thought that after making a difference serving my country that I'd come home and make a difference in my hometown."

Martinez served seven and a half years in the Army, including a deployment to Afghanistan.

When he returned to civilian life last year, he founded an Orange County chapter of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that empowers veterans through community service.

"Every day when you wake up, you have something you gotta do and there's a purpose behind it. When you transition out of the military, it's not that you have no purpose, it's just that you've lost that purpose."

Leading the Orange County "platoon" has helped Martinez transition out of the military.

His latest project is building storage shelves for Grandma's House of Hope, which collects and distributes donations for the homeless.

"This is the most amazing thing, to come in here and take everything out of the donation center, build some shelves and reorganize," said Ja'net Kreitner with Grandma's House of Help. "It's big."

Martinez says he values the service and the camaraderie with other veterans.

"To me, it just gives me that little piece of home, that little piece that I missed after leaving the service, so it's nice."

The group's work this weekend honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by continuing a legacy of community impact.

"Grew up with a dream, and just like Grandma's House they have dreams of growing and expanding and my job is to be that fulfillment."
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