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April 9, 2014

Local veteran in Eastpointe gets Habitat for Humanity home

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Helen Hicks, president of Macomb County Habitat for Humanity, opens the dedication ceremony for the Wabich family’s new house March 29. Behind her, center, is the Wabich family — from left, Ben Wabich Jr. and Benjamin Michael Wabich, along with Cindy Wabich holding Marie Wabich, and Chelsea Sass.

EASTPOINTE — The Macomb County Habitat for Humanity has helped a veteran in Eastpointe get a new home.

Desert Storm Marine veteran Ben Wabich, his wife, Cindy, and their kids formally moved into the Habitat house on Beaconsfield March 29, after several months of preparation and construction. According to Dave Tirsell, faith relations manager with the Macomb County Habitat for Humanity, it was the first completely new building that the group has done in the city.

“There had been a house there six or seven years ago, but there was a natural gas explosion, and the house was leveled,” Tirsell said. “They sold it to someone, then that family decided not to build and provided that lot to Macomb Habitat, so it was a real blessing for us.”

He said that while they have worked on rehabilitations of existing buildings in Eastpointe, and have had new buildings and rehabbed ones in Roseville, this gave them the opportunity to construct a house that fit the family’s own needs effectively.

While the house is not custom-built, Tirsell said it meets visitable standards by the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are grab bars in the house, as well as a ramp at one of the entryways, and, he said, as Wabich suffered injuries in Desert Storm while serving in Kuwait, this would be helpful to the family.

Beyond the interior amenities, Tirsell said the group made sure to properly insulate the house to keep energy costs down, and at the city’s request, the group added a brick exterior so that it blends in with the rest of the neighborhood.

In total, the cost of construction was around $110,000, though he said Habitat sells the house for its appraised value, which was lower than the total build cost. Thrivent Financial helped finance the construction, with Habitat raising the remaining money through fundraisers and donations.

According to the Habitat press release, Wabich was a marine serving in Kuwait for three years and three months during Desert Storm, where he injured his knees and right ankle.

After getting back to the U.S., Wabich attended Walsh College and received a bachelor’s degree in business management. He now works at American Atlas Locksmith.

Wabich was thankful to the group during the opening ceremony March 29.

“Thanks to everyone who helped us get this house,” Wabich said. “It makes me want to cry.”

Tirsell said the neighborhood has reacted very positively while construction was going on, with people stopping by to bring volunteers doughnuts and pizza, as well as coming by to warn people working on the roof about a storm front coming through.

“It was a very warm reception,” he said. “There was a lot of interest in having a new neighbor there.”

The Wabich family is one of the few veteran families the group has helped get a home, but Tirsell said it’s something they want to expand on, going forward.