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When Veterans Administration Mental Health Recreational Therapist, Kristi Ruben, heard about Habitat’s first Veterans Build project, she had an idea. Since the distressed property Habitat purchased on E. 7th St would be demolished to build a new home for a local veteran, she wondered if the planks from the old fence could be turned into birdhouses for the VA Expressive Arts Group to paint and decorate. The finished birdhouses could be used as a fundraiser for the project, and she knew the group would enjoy the opportunity to do something nice for a fellow veteran.

Veterans Ed Carleo and Cletus Lockhorn

With a supply of planks from the site, Vietnam Veteran and VA volunteer, Ed Carleo constructed the houses, and the Expressive Art Group and the Residential Recovery Treatment Program participants set about transforming them into works of art to support a fellow Vet.

Veterans have a long tradition of taking care of their own. Ruben says this project “is a shining example of their continued mission to succeed as a team.”

The resulting birdhouses are full of color and creativity made with a lot of love, care, and support for a cause to honor another vet. “Projects like this help build healthy coping skills through the use of art for relaxation and mindfulness,” said Ruben.

And because the birdhouses were made from materials recycled from the property where the first Veterans Build project is located, the project has accomplished one of Habitat's main goals of bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope.

The Habitat Veterans Build is a program that will transform a distressed property in Cheyenne’s Historic Southside neighborhood into a new home for a veteran to own. The program also seeks to raise awareness of housing issues and other challenges our Nation’s Heroes face in our community. One issue Ruben sees is the isolation some veterans feel. It’s why programs like those offered at the VA are so vital.

Check out some of the birdhouses created by local veterans below and purchase raffle tickets for your favorites at Habitat's Online Store. Proceeds from the raffle will be split between Habitat (to buy material for the Veterans Build project) and the Expressive Art Therapy Group (to buy more art supplies!)

The drawing will be held on Memorial Day- May 31, 2021. Winners will be notified and shipping is available for out-of-town winners.

For more information on the project visit or reach out to

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