Kelly RaleyA Hero To The Heroes



A Hero To The Heroes: National Executive Director Kelly Raley Relishes Her Role

Kelly RaleyNovember 11, 2017 was Veteran’s Day.

Kelly Raley recently moved from her law practice to become Executive Director for Helping a Hero, a Houston based national non-profit that strives to make a difference in the lives of our country’s wounded warriors by building adapted homes designed for their individual needs.   To date, they have awarded over 100 homes in 22 states.   Kelly’s legal background, coupled with her lifelong commitment to volunteerism, makes her highly qualified to assume the reins of this outstanding organization and continue its positive impact on disabled combat veterans and their families.

Since becoming the Executive Director, Kelly has kept a fast pace with all the HAH programs, resulting in awards and accolades for Helping a Hero locally and nationally.  Helping a Hero was one of only 12 charities to receive the Award of Distinction from the Greater Houston Better Business Bureau for its transparency and accountability.  On Memorial Day, the TODAY Show featured the unveiling of a Helping a Hero home to MSgt (Ret) Zac Rhyner, USAF, who received the Air Force Cross for his valor, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart among other medals.
Some of the most meaningful times for Kelly in her new role have been getting to spend time with veterans and their families and listen to their struggles and successes. Every time she meets a Helping a Hero home recipient, she becomes inspired by their story of bravery, courage, resilience, and sheer fortitude. For over a decade, Kelly has been a donor to Helping a Hero.  As Executive Director, she has been able to see how far the charity can stretch a dollar and has a new appreciation for its financial stewardship.
Shortly after Kelly assumed her new role,  SGT Daniel Cowart, who lost his leg in an explosion in Iraq, received the keys to his new home.  That particular day was also his 10th “Alive Day.” (The Alive Day is the day a soldier was injured.) SGT Cowart asked Helping a Hero to hold his key ceremony on his 10th Alive Day so that he would have a positive memory to celebrate with his fellow veterans who were with him that fateful day.  Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA” as three planes did a flyover and the hundreds of patriots waved flags and sang along.

Kelly Raley The homes designed by Helping a Hero allow amputees and wheelchair-bound veterans to regain their independence with more accessible and wider doorways and hallways, an adapted toilet area, roll-in shower, roll under sinks, flush entryways, etc.   Burn victims, who are no longer able to regulate their temperature since they have lost their sweat glands, have their needs addressed. Helping a Hero empowers wounded warriors to thrive, not just survive,  by incorporating new interests into the home.  One home now has a recording studio instead of a 4th bedroom.  Commercial quality appliances are installed for a budding chef. Craft rooms and offices for small businesses when the budget can accommodate them.
These wounded warriors receive a fixed disability income from the government-- tax-free.  100% disabled veterans in Texas are property tax exempt.  Helping a Hero implements a philosophy similar to Habitat for Humanity.  The charity requires a veteran to live in the home for ten years and to invest a minimum of $50,000.  The on-average $300,000 homes are paid for through veteran investment, labor, and material donations, Helping a Hero cash donations, and lot donations or discounts. Most of the time the VA provides an adapted housing grant.  Even with the $50,000 mortgage, the monthly payment for Texas veterans is less than a one bedroom apartment.
In her spare time, Kelly is pursuing her certification in Philanthropic and Nonprofit Leadership from Rice University.   She and her husband, John Raley have three children and reside in Memorial.