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Hendrickses donate accessible home for vet with family

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Anna Marie Lux
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

JANESVILLE—Rhonda and Kevin Hendricks hope the new house at 2411 S. Terrace St. will make life easier for a veteran with a family.

The Hendrickses paid to build the three-bedroom home, with the exception of in-kind donations of time and materials from more than a dozen businesses.

The Janesville home with two bathrooms is built so that a person in a wheelchair can get through doors and reach counters.

Kevin Hendricks estimated its value at about $175,000.

The Hendrickses are in the process of donating the house to Caravilla, which owns the buildings occupied by Rock Valley Community Programs on Sunny Lane.

RVCP operates a 48-bed, transitional-housing program for homeless male vets, and the agency will help find eligible candidates with families for the house.

“We have a lot of contacts within the veterans system,” said Angel Eggers, executive director of RVCP. “We are using our contacts to locate vets to apply for the housing.”

Before the Hendrickses started the project, they asked if there was a need for single-family housing that is wheelchair accessible.

“We asked our partners in the VA system, and the response is an overwhelming 'yes,'” Eggers said.

Kevin Hendricks got the idea to donate the home while watching a television show about the number of returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan who use wheelchairs.

“They are young and ambitious, and then something happens,” Hendricks said. “It changes their lives forever.”

He said programs exist to help vets who are homeless.

“But what about the guy who comes back with a wife and kids and is paralyzed?” Hendricks asked. “I thought it would be cool to build a house that is 100 percent wheelchair accessible.”

Hendricks said he will let his five children get involved in choosing which vet and family will live in the house.

“I want them to be part of the process,” Hendricks said. “I'm trying to teach them the value of giving and to think of the sacrifices of these individuals. They deserve and earned the right to have some gratitude from this country.”

Too often, wounded vets are forgotten, he said.

Wellnitz and Sarow Builders constructed the home at cost.

“I talked to other people who were willing to be part of the effort,” said Bob Sarow, owner. “The project has blossomed into something that is going to be really neat.”

Sixteen businesses donated labor and/or materials for the home, which will be one of 10 new houses in the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association Parade of Homes in September.

Hendricks said his family is living the American Dream. His father, the late Ken Hendricks, and Ken's wife, Diane, started ABC Supply of Beloit.

“When my father started, we struggled,” Hendricks said. “But the Hendricks family was successful over the years. My dad instilled in me how grateful we should be to live in America. None of it would be possible without our vets.”

If all goes well, Hendricks said he and Rhonda might donate more homes for veterans.

“My game plan would be to do one per year,” he said. “I want a vet to be able to wheel his chair into his kids' rooms at night to tuck them into bed.”



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