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By Pat Sherman
Longtime La Jollan Bob Clelland and others are helping wounded warriors and other military members have a more pleasant vacation experience through their efforts to replace 24 deteriorating cottages at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base.
On June 18, Clelland was joined by donors, Camp Pendleton officials and others involved in the Pendleton Cottages Restoration Project, dedicating the first five handicap-friendly vacation cottages at Pendleton’s San Onofre beach site. Three more cottages are being installed this week.
Clelland, who is in charge of the restoration project, said the cottages will serve a recreational need for current and retired military personnel — with an emphasis on disabled veterans. The rental facility is operated by Marine Corps Community Services and is available to all active and retired military personnel.
Clelland said the existing cottages (FEMA trailers) are crumbling and beyond repair.
“We’re taking them down and putting up new cottages that are handicap-friendly, with mostly two bedroom units replacing one bedroom units,” said Clelland, an investment advisor who serves as chair of the San Diego Regional Disaster Fund and is former chair of the San Diego Foundation’s investment committee. “These new cottages are built to last, with metal roofs, composite siding and railings and stainless steel appliances.”
Hedges Construction of Valley Center is acquiring and install manufactured homes to replace the current units.
San Clemente residents Tom Hurt and wife, Jan Well, approached Clelland in 2009 with a proposal to fund the first cottage.
Though Wells died in 2011, Clelland, Hurt and a team of volunteers continue to work with base personnel to move the project forward.
The Victory Fund of the
Nice Guys of San Diego
is serving as fiscal agent for the Project, and the nonprofit San Diego Foundation is also assisting.
The project is still in need of donations for future units from individuals, civic groups or corporations. The cost for each unit is approximately $85,000 plus $6,000 for basic furnishings.
Each cottage will be dedicated with a plaque honoring the donor or the donor’s designee, such as a charitable organization or a family member who has served in the military.
To date, the project has received nearly $750,000 in donations, including assistance from
La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club
“I have a huge passion for this project, because I know the good that it’s going to do,” Clelland said.