Donated home ‘life-changing’ for wounded Army vet
Livonia — A retired U.S. Army medic and Purple Heart recipient wounded in Afghanistan got the keys to a donated home and moved in Saturday in Livonia.
Citizens Bank partnered with the Texas-based Military Warriors Support Foundation to donate the recently-renovated brick ranch to 30-year-old John Blizinski, of Royal Oak.
Neighbors and Citizens employees, who helped rehab the home, watched from the street Saturday afternoon as Blizinski and his wife Nicole toured the 1,400 square foot, three-bedroom home for the first time. Nicole Blizinski wiped away tears as they walked through the living room, with hardwood floors, renovated kitchen and a finished basement.
“This is literally just life changing,” John Blizinski said. “It is just unreal. It is literally one of those things that seems too good to be true.”
The couple and their 2-year-old son had been living with John Blizinski’s parents in Royal Oak after he took a medical retirement from the Army in January.
Blizinski served in the Army for nearly seven years and was wounded in 2011 while in Afghanistan when the truck he was traveling in hit an improvised explosive device, he said. He received the Purple Heart in 2012, along with a Combat Medic Badge, two Army Commendation Medals and two Army Achievement Medals. His wife also received the Order of Saint Joan d’Arc award for her work mentoring Army spouses.
The couple not only got the keys to their new home Saturday but as a surprise, Citizens Bank partnered with White Star Movers, to transport all their furniture from storage a day early.
They also surprised the couple with more than $8,000 in gift cards from Citizen employees across the country, a Craftsman workbench and new grill. More than 100 volunteers and contractors worked to renovate the home, which was dilapidated after the former owner walked away from it.
“It is really going to be hard for me to talk here ... without getting overwhelmed,” said Karen Minghine, Citizens’ retail director. “I have never been so proud of the people I work with.”
The ceremony had a block party atmosphere with Citizens volunteers and neighbors congregating, eager to shake hands with their new neighbors.
Nikki Hammer, who lives across the street, said her excitement for her new neighbors extends to her brother, who is also ex-Army and lives an hour away. He wants to meet Blizinski.
“They are fighting for our country,” Hammer said. “They deserve everything we can do for them.”