Combat veterans home planned for Redden Forest property

New York City native David Forman, owner/president of Christian Grace LLC, plans to convert this property on Deer Forest Road in the Redden Forest area into a home for military combat veterans. Submitted photo

GEORGETOWN — Faith and divine intervention, David Forman says, is what brought him to the Deer Forest Road property where he someday plans to welcome combat veterans.

He believes its “God’s providence.”

Mr. Forman says the secluded ranch has a storied past, according to neighbors of the Redden Forest property.

For decades, they say, a family lived on their farm as “preppers,” surviving on what they grew, raised or hunted, according to the 56-year-old New York City native, who now resides in Milton.

When the father died and the family moved, the property fell into disrepair, Mr. Forman said. Now some years later, it has been sold at auction to Mr. Forman, owner/president of Christian Grace LLC, a company that is transforming the property into a home for combat veterans. Spring 2021 is the targeted opening.

Mr. Forman established Christian Grace LLC for recovery homes.

He currently has a recovery home in Georgetown, which can accommodate a half dozen men at a time.

“It is in town. It’s all part of Christian Grace LLC,” said Mr. Forman. “There is a such a demand. It’s part of almost like a network of recovery homes in Georgetown, with a few different owners. We all work together when there is a need.”

Initially, his Deer Forest road property was eyed as another recovery home.

“But as we got further along, I thought of it as more long-term. And the combat veterans came to me just because of what the property is set up like. It seems almost like a military training camp,” said Mr. Forman.

While he is not a military veteran, there is passion. “Just to be thankful. Just being grateful that there are people that are willing to be so brave and to give their service and their lives to keeping me and my family and others safe,” said Mr. Forman.

The Redden Forest area facility will be wheelchair accessible and able to adequately accommodate upward of seven veterans.

“This is a permanent home for some or transitional home for others,” said Mr. Forman. “Like our recovery ‘sober-living homes,’ it’s considered supportive housing in a private single-family home.”

Mr. Forman is banking on national and local publicity and marketing through military media and local VA (Veterans Affairs) counselors and agencies. He said the VA may pay housing benefits to men or for home care assistance.

“But we can expect mostly able bodied men, although we can accommodate wheelchair access for two of seven,” Mr. Forman said. “Some men will pay privately, others I understand, as part of benefits get close to $50 per day housing allowance, which is close to the monthly rent per room.”

Mr. Forman added, “The reason I have no concerns about the need for homes like this and no concerns about spreading the message is because I owned Visiting Angels for 11 years. We had hundreds of care recipients that received benefits from VA and very often learned of needs for ‘non-medical supportive housing.’”

According to Mr. Forman, this is a permanent home for some or transitional home for others, paid monthly without long-term lease. They sign rules and the house is self-governed. For this type of housing no landlord tenant laws apply.

A complete renovation

“We had land improvements … handicap accessibility. It’s almost a complete renovation inside,” said Mr. Forman. “The main thing is we had to add two big bathrooms. They had a family of eight with two bathrooms. So, we’re going to have at least seven (residents) and we have four bathrooms.”

Renovation and other work require funding. Mr. Forman has set up a GoFundMe page for anyone wishing support this initiative.

There is a digital link to gofundme.com page at https://gf.me/u/yzktvt or visit gofundme.com and search Georgetown DE Veterans retreat, Mr. Forman.

“One of the most important things is that when we started, the $3 2-by-4 lumber is now $7; $18 plywood is now $54,” said Mr. Forman. “I didn’t see the end from the beginning. Nobody saw that coming.”

Mr. Forman said some people with veteran connections and salespeople are discounting or donating building materials. Seasonal outdoor events and fundraisers are also in the works, he said.

Born in Queens, Mr. Forman lived in New York City and Long Island most of his life.

“The whole idea of having a farm is kind of strange,” he said. “Whenever I had a problem (in NYC) I’d call my doorman.”
Mr. Forman can also be reached via email VAGraceLlc@gmail.com.

Divine purpose

Mr. Forman said he learned much of the farm’s history after purchasing the unique property and explained why he believes the land has a divine purpose.

“I was intrigued by property on an auction site close to town to expand our recovery home capacity. However, we were under contract with another house, so my initial visit was purely borne of curiosity; or so I thought,” he said.

Mr. Forman says the site randomly paired him with Latoya McGrevy of Century 21 Emerald, and they met at the long-abandoned farm.

There, they encountered items that seemed out of place. Among these oddities were tall wood poles, piles of enormous tires, and a heavy steel chain hung between trees fastened 100 feet high, Mr. Forman said.

“We were bewildered,” he said. “It looked like some sort of training camp.

“Walking toward the ranch, I reminded myself that I was about to close on a second income-producing home in town, and what did a guy who lived most his life 38 stories high in a city know about owning a farm? I felt guilty that I was wasting Latoya’s time.”

When Mr. Forman shared some of these thoughts, the conversation turned to their shared faith.

“I was wondering aloud about God’s providence, when we came to a stone entranceway to the house. I could not believe my eyes. I was just stunned,” he said.

Engraved in black letters on a grey granite stone archway was Hebrew writing. Mr. Forman said he doesn’t speak the language, but quickly recognized the significance of the words.

“I grew up in a Jewish home and was taught just enough Hebrew to sound out letters and form words in order to read during a ceremony called a Bar Mitzvah, when tradition says a boy of 13 becomes a man. We weren’t taught the meaning of what we were reading,” he said.

As a messianic Jew, more than 40 years later Mr. Forman began studying ancient Hebrew. The night before visiting the property, he said he was determined to learn a complete portion of scripture in Hebrew.

“Jesus often quoted the Old Testament,” Mr. Forman said. “When his disciples asked Him, ‘Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?’ Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength,’ so I thought that was an excellent place to start.

“The only other full sentence I could recognize in Hebrew was what the Jewish people call their most important prayer, the “Shema.”

Jesus confirms this in Mark 12:28. In English it’s “Hear o’ Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is one.” In Hebrew: “Shema Yisrael Adonoi Elohenu, Adonoi echud.” Using this as sort of a Rosetta Stone, I learned Deuteronomy 6:5 in Hebrew.”

Mr. Forman stood at the grand archway entrance to the home and carved in stone in Hebrew was the “Shema,” followed by Deuteronomy 6:5!

Etched into the opposite side of the archway, Deuteronomy continued through the Ten Commandments.

Astonished, Mr. Forman explained to Ms. McGrevy what they were seeing; and noticed something else. Across the entrance was a black curtain. Earlier, it had been blowing in the wind but had settled into place. Mr. Forman saw it was torn.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Mr. Forman asked.

“I think so,” she said.

According to Mr. Forman, the Bible says that when Christ was crucified, the temple veil was torn.

“There was a curtain in the temple in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, that separated the holy of holies, where the “Arc of the Covenant” was kept. Once a year on the “Day of Atonement,” the high priest, who had to be a descendant of Moses’ brother Aaron, was allowed beyond the curtain.” Mr. Forman said. “A torn veil signified that we all now had direct access to God, through Jesus, the new and last high priest.

“The person who built this house, was not Jewish, but a Christian who truly understood the gospel!” Mr. Forman marveled.
Deuteronomy instructs; write the law upon your hearts and minds and on your doorposts.

Mr. Forman said, “Jewish people place a small ornament called a Mezuzah containing scroll on their doorways. The scroll is usually inscribed with the very same writing that the builder of this house literally etched upon his doorposts!”

Property purchased

Still, a closing on another house was days away.

“For days I had a persistent thought that both delighted and frightened me. What if I didn’t proceed, and some day faced a God who asked, ‘What else did you need to know David? I etched it into the wall!’”

Then, inexplicably the seller of the deal in progress called, and asked how Mr. Forman would feel about breaking it.

Mr. Forman said this made him sure, so he asked Latoya to bid. He says even the auction had divine intervention.

“We had the winning bid the last day of the online process, when 15 minutes before the auction ended, the listing vanished!” he said. “Baffled, discouraged and confused, I thanked Latoya for her time.”

The listing reappeared a week later, Mr. Forman said.

“Now we were bidding against others, causing a rising sales price. In the final moments at my own bid limit, the listing disappeared again!” he said. “I decided auctions were too stressful.”

Two weeks later, the listing reappeared a third time.

Mr. Forman said he was hesitant to get back on the adrenaline roller coaster, but he did and this time he lost to a higher bidder and the auction was finally completed.

“How strange,” Mr. Forman thought. “What was God teaching me, or did I imagine his hand in everything?”

A month later Latoya called Mr. Forman. “We just got a phone call from the bank, and they offered us the property,” she said, “for nearly $30,000 less than our last bid!”

Mr. Forman bought it.