BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – This month, a Baton Rouge family received a much-needed gift from a New York-based nonprofit.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation helps the immediate family members of military personnel and first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty. In honor of Memorial Day 2023, Tunnel to Towers is delivering 30 mortgage-free homes or mortgage payoffs to such families.

The Cheneverts from Baton Rouge are among the recipients.

U.S. National Guard Chief Warrant Officer André Chenevert lost his life on July 19, 2020, after a fatal cardiac event during training. His wife, Koa, was left to raise their six children on her own. But Chenevert’s legacy lives on.

He joined the Junior ROTC program in high school and was motivated to enlist in the Marines upon graduating. He served until 1992, which is when he transferred to the Marine Corps Reserves and eventually forged a new career path with the United States Army Reserve from 1999 to 2009.

This month, Tunnel to Towers helped Koa pay off the mortgage on her family’s Greenwell Springs home. 

She expressed deep gratitude, saying, “To receive this gift on Memorial Day, or any day, means more to us than words can describe. We are very humbled by this act and it has deepened our appreciation for all military families . … This will allow our family to save for our future and allow us to live a stress-free life while making new memories.” 

Tunnel to Towers assisted a second Louisiana family in recognition of Memorial Day. The Bates family, of Hammond, had their mortgage paid off as well.

The support honored U.S. Army Private First Class Brian Bates Jr., killed in action on Oct. 27, 2009. Bates was in Loy Kariz, Afghanistan, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom, when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

He was survived by his wife, Enjolie, and their two children.

Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, said, “To all of the families who know the true meaning of Memorial Day, I thank you for your service and sacrifice. We know that no service member serves alone. It is our honor to support these families who have sacrificed so much so we can all enjoy the freedoms America has to offer.”