The Howard Hughes Corporation and Houston Texans team up with Operation Finally Home to provide new home for US Army veteran in The Woodland Hills

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 08/11/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX – Several local and regional organizations teamed up to provide one army veteran a new home, and Woodlands Online was there to cover the groundbreaking ceremony that took place in The Woodland Hills.

Joanna Ellenbeck, a single mother of daughter Harper and veteran of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was recognized as the Texans’ Salute to Service honoree of a home Houston Texans football game last season. However, at the end of the Salute to Service feature, Ellenback was surprised as the announcer shared even more exciting news – she and her family were receiving a custom built, mortgage-free home on behalf of Operation Finally Home in partnership with Century Communities, The Howard Hughes Corporation, Greater Houston Builders Association, and the Houston Texans and Houston Texans Foundation.

The home is to be built by Century Communities on a lot donated by The Howard Hughes Corporation. At the groundbreaking event, Ellenbeck and her daughter were escorted to the build site by the Patriot Guard Riders and local law enforcement and first responders. Also in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony were Houston Texans Cheerleaders, mascot TORO, and Texans legend Steve McKinney. Breakfast was provided by La Cocina de Roberto.

The ceremony was emceed by Steve Sams, senior vice president of master planned communities for The Howard Hughes Corporation, who introduced Mike Dishberger, president of the Greater Houston Builders Association; and Lee Kirgan, vice president of construction for Operation Finally Home. Dishberger also invited McKinney, a former Aggie who played for the Texans between 2002 - 2007, to speak on behalf of the Texans Foundation.

The home is expected to be completed in approximately six months; in the meantime, Ellenbeck and her daughter will be preparing to move from their current residence in Arizona to be much closer to their family and friends in Montgomery County. Ellenbeck has been awarded multiple awards and recognition for her service, including an Iraq Campaign medal with five stars, four Army Commendation Medals, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, and two Army Good Conduct Medals, in addition to a National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, among others. She was honorably discharged in 2010.

“We are happy to welcome Sgt. Ellenbeck to The Woodlands Hills,” said Lorrie Parise, director of PR and community relations, in an exclusive interview with Woodlands Online. “It was a wonderful groundbreaking ceremony with all the partners who are going to build this home for her and her family. All these organizations and businesses easily came together for such a wonderful cause; a veteran who has served our nation. That is so important.”

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