Visit to Habitat home becomes 83rd birthday celebration

As Dorothy Wrzesinski celebrates her 83rd birthday under the umbrella, work continues on the Habitat for Humanity home in Eastlake. (Dave Yarnell/News Advocate)

EASTLAKE — Saturday was Dorothy Wrzesinski’s 83rd birthday, but when her daughter Christine Kolanowski suggested that they take a drive to Eastlake to see the Habitat for Humanity home under construction, the last thing she expected was for that to turn into a surprise celebration.

But, her children, grandchildren and many others were on hand to do exactly that.

Daughter MaryLynn Wrzesinski, who has helped with several Habitat for Humanity homes, said it was appropriate for her mother to visit and be honored at the site because she inspired her children to not be afraid to pick up a hammer and nails.

“Dad sailed, so she taught us how to do this kind of thing,” MaryLynn Wrzesinski said. “I remember she built a new table for us — even put the laminate on it and built benches for both sides.”

Daughter Karen Goodman, who was helping nail down the roof sheathing on Saturday, remembers how handy her mother was with home repairs.

“We’d come home after school and a wall would be gone,” Goodman said.

Dorothy Wrzesinski celebrated her 83rd birthday with many of her family members at the Habitat for Humanity build in Manistee. Pictured (from left to right, front row) Marylynn Wrzesinski, Ashley VanAelst ,Dorothy Wrzesinski, Karen Goodman, Christine Kolanowski, (second row) Emma Smart, Clare Nickelson, Libbey Johnson, (back row) Wally Smart, Samantha VanAelst, Corbin Nickelson, Austin VanAeslt, Daryl Goodman and Scott VanAelst. (Dave Yarnell/Staff Writer)

Dorothy joked about getting the kids involved with projects.

“I’d give them a hammer and crow bar, and that was there entertainment,” she said. “I tried to teach my girls to never pick up a paint brush or a hammer, but they didn’t listen.”

Dorothy’s husband, Jerry Wrzesinski, who was an engineer on lake freighters, died in 1980 at age 54. Their children, in addition to Goodman, Kolanowski and Marylynn Wrzesinski, are Sharon Marie, Michael Wrzesinski, Jerome Wrzesinski, Russell Wrzesinski and Stephanie Smart.

“I never expected this,” Dorothy Wrzesinski said of the surprise at the Habitat build. “This is the first I’ve seen of these homes. It’s a wonderful, wonderful program.”

She also got to meet the new Habitat partner family, Jon Swidorski and Ashley Leckrone, who with their three sons will move into the home when it’s completed.

“I got the call that we had been selected at 11:40 on Tuesday,” Leckrone said. “That time will be stuck in my head forever. This house is going up fast. We can’t wait for it to be done.”

Jon Swidorski also was excited.

“The location is awesome,” he said. “This is definitely a blessing, that’s for sure.”

On her 83rd birthday, Dorothy Wrzesinski visited the current Habitat for Humanity home build and met the Habitat partner family, Jon Swidorski and Ashley Leckrone. (Dave Yarnell/News Advocate)

 

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Posted by Dave Yarnell

Dave was formerly the News Advocate features writer and retired in November 2013.

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