Harold McKinley and Inspiritus crew

Harold McKinley: A Veteran’s Stand Against Adversity with Inspiritus

by Richard Luthmann

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Fort Myers tells a stark tale. It’s about Harold McKinley, 91, a Navy veteran, betrayed by those he trusted to repair his home. He’s out $17,000. Enter Inspiritus. They’re not just a group; they’re his saviors.

Julie Dimitrov from Inspiritus is clearcut in her words. “Our mission is simple yet critical. We step in immediately after disasters. Then we stay. We rebuild homes, lives,” she says. Inspiritus joins forces with SHARC, a Florida state program, and groups like Community College Initiative, Pelican Ministries, and Anthem Church. It’s a strong alliance committed to rebuilding and restoring.

Harold’s from Louisville, Kentucky. His past is like a movie. He played football with Johnny Unitas and Paul Horning. He knew Cassius Clay before the world called him Muhammad Ali. “Those were days of strength,” Harold recalls. His voice, though aged, carries a weight. “Then the hurricane came, and those contractors. They left me with nothing. It felt like the end.”

But it wasn’t. Mike Moultrie, Inspiritus’ project manager, oversees the rebuilding. He’s more than a supervisor; he’s a teacher. “It’s about skills, sure. But it’s about spirit, too. We’re teaching these young volunteers to build, help, and care,” Mike states. He’s a man of few words, but each one counts. 

Volunteers swarm the site. Among them, Deztiny Carter from Colorado Springs, Manuela Huertas, Ruby Martinez. They’re diverse and driven. “I never knew a hammer could be so powerful, not just in building, but in bring-ing hope,” says Deztiny. Manuela nods. “We’re here to fix walls, but we’re mending more than that.” Ruby’s view is simple. “Different stories, one purpose. Rebuild, restore.”

Harold’s ordeal is not just his. It speaks to a broader problem. Post-disaster, the vulnerable often face deception. Unlicensed contractors are quick to promise and quicker to flee. Harold’s story brings this to light, a grim reality for many.

“A licensed General Contractor gives the customers a safety net. If they are not licensed they are beholden to no one. Always ask for their license, insurance, and employee vetting process to save yourself headaches,” says Troy Conner of First Priority Restoration, a reputable and licensed GC in Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach.

But in this story, there’s a quiet triumph. “This house, it’s not just mine. It’s built by hands of strangers, now friends,” Harold says, looking over the bustling site. “It’s more than a structure. It’s a testament to kindness, to humanity.”

Harold McKinley’s story, told in rebuilding his home, is a narrative of resilience. It’s a tale of a community’s strength, a veteran’s unwavering spirit, and the power of collective action against the odds. In the simple yet profound acts of rebuilding, there lies a story of hope, a narrative that resonates with the enduring power of human connection and solidarity.