Mother, son receive new home

Christian service group takes care of everything

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 29, 2015

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On Dec. 19, dozens of volunteers and friends gathered at a newly renovated home in Shelby Forest Manufactured Home Community to witness the moment when Barbara and Jonathan Sokolyk first laid eyes on their wheelchair-accessible residence.

Their reaction: tears from Barbara and a wide grin from Jonathan, as his favorite superhero, Spider-Man, performed flips and tricks around him.

“It’s been a journey,” Barb said as she stood in the home’s foyer. “God bless everyone.”

Prior to receiving the keys from Faith Works, a Christian service group, Barbara and Jonathan lived in a small apartment in Roseville.

Jonathan, who turned 20 years old earlier this month, was born with severe cerebral palsy. He depends on 24-hour care, and the size of the apartment limited his movement, especially through doorways.

“This was a process of probably eight to 10 months,” said Dan Leighton, the project lead, who is in the mobile home industry.

The home has a new roof, furnace, hot water heater, windows and carpeting, and has been freshly painted both inside and outside. It has a new ramp for Jonathan’s wheelchair, a wheel-in shower, wider doors and doorways throughout.

More than $15,000 in modifications were donated, including more than 1,000 hours in labor to complete the project. Other groups donated hundreds of hours to prepare the family for the move.

“There were probably 70-80 people involved,” Leighton said. “It took an unbelievable amount of miracles. We had so many people who heard about it that just started tithing.”

Cyndi Wehrle was Barbara’s nurse when Barbara developed an infection five months into her pregnancy, which led to Jonathan’s cerebral palsy. Wehrle also was Jonathan’s home care nurse after he was born.

It was Wehrle who reached out to Faith Works on Dec. 17, 2014. One year and two days later, her request became a reality.

“(Barb) really kind of considers (my cousin Christine Wehrle and I) her adopted sisters,” she said. “We just always knew we wanted something that was good for them. It was such a hard situation, and it’s been such an awesome journey.”

Barbara said she felt overwhelmed and happy.

“This is very nice,” she said. “(Jonathan is) smiling. He’s in heaven.”

Chuck Pottenger was one of many Faith Works volunteers who met the Sokolyk family for the first time Dec. 19. He called it an emotional day.

“Already her neighbors have heard about the gift of a new home and have pledged to help Barb with snow removal and other offers of assistance to make them feel welcome,” Pottenger said. “Barbara will be able to afford her new home because the home was purchased and modified with private donations from Faith Works and other groups.”

Through construction projects, Faith Works helps single mothers, veterans, the disabled, the elderly and others in need. The group partnered with many other charitable organizations — including 100 Women Who Care, Soul Sisters, MK Friends, Full Throttle and Life Remodeled — to finish the project.

“Talk about a Christmas story,” Leighton said. “This is the perfect Christmas story. We’re giving Jonathan and Barb a piece of their future that they never would have got without somebody listening to God.”

For more information about Faith Works, visit www.faithworksmichigan.com.

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