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A place to call home

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Retiring soldier of good fortune gets a mortgage-free dream come true from Wells Fargo

By Michele Roberts

A new family will be moving to Lancaster soon, as Operation Homefront recently awarded a newly renovated mortgage-free home to a veteran and his family.

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Provided by Wells Fargo, the house will be a home to U.S. Army Sgt. Chad Bayley, his wife Michelle, and their children Meagan, Hannah, Tovah and Quentin. 

Bayley, a fire support specialist, is retiring from military service and is currently stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky., where the family lives in on-base housing. 

“All of this is just really overwhelming,” said Bayley, who said he only found out his family had been chosen for the home a month ago. 

“It’s going to be so nice for the kids to have a place to call home, something that’s theirs. That will definitely be something different for them.”

“My whole life has been military and I can remember that every two years or so, we had to move,” said the Bayley’s 17-year-old daughter Meagan. 

“Every 18 to 24 months we were having to go somewhere else. I’m so anxious to get back and stay here. I can unpack my stuff and know that it’s going to be able to stay here, and will be here when I get back from college.”

“I feel extremely blessed,” said Bayley’s wife Michelle. “I’m so thankful and grateful to everyone who has been involved with this.”

Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit organization that has been meeting the needs of military families since 2002. One of their many programs is Homes on the Homefront, which is the program that provided the house on Combs Way in Lancaster to the Bayley family. 

The property was donated to Operation Homefront by Wells Fargo as part of their commitment to support veterans and military families through their Veterans’ Team Member Network.

“When we receive the donated properties, we list them on a website, www.homesonthehomefront.org, for ten days,” said Operation Homefront Housing Case Worker Andrea Kephart. “During those 10 days, people can apply for the homes. When the listing closes, we pull a report of all the applicants and start vetting each one.”

Kephart said several factors are considered during the process, including whether or not the family has a good connection to the area where the home is located and whether or not they are financially able to maintain the home in the long term.

“Even though the property is mortgage free, there are still expenses such as property taxes and possibly homeowner’s association fees, so we want to make sure that the family will be able to meet those needs,” Kephart said. “Once we’ve narrowed down the field of applicants they are presented to a committee, who then determine which family is the best match to each home.”

Bayley said he applied for the Lancaster home because it was a central location to other family members in the Carolinas.

“Our oldest daughter, Mandy, lives in Jacksonville, N.C. along with three of our four grandchildren,” he said. “And my wife’s brother lives in Atlanta, so this seemed like a really nice place right in between the two.”

Along with Wells Fargo employees from the Charlotte corporate offices, Elizabeth Williams, store manager of Wells Fargo in Lancaster, helped welcome the Bayleys to their new home.

“We marked July 4 about a month ago, but what a great way to keep the celebration going, by donating a home to this wonderful American who has bravely served our country,” she said. “We offer our sincere congratulations to Chad Bayley and his family on being recipients of this mortgage-free home. We hope they will enjoy it and that it contributes to the improvement of their quality of life after all you have done for our country.”

Bayley said he begins his terminal leave this month. Right now, the family is wrapping up things to prepare for the permanent move to Lancaster.

“I am so excited about all of this, I wish we didn’t have to go back at all,” said Michelle Bayley. “I wish we could just stay right here and move in right now.”

“We definitely can’t wait to get back,” Chad Bayley said. “It’s so nice, being able to look forward to moving to a place that we can really call home.”