From Ukraine, with Love

September 14, 2022
by Kristin Neeley-Givens, Program Manager at Rebuilding Together St. Joseph County

While the home repairs we provide at Rebuilding Together may be similar in nature, the story of each neighbor we meet is genuinely unique. At first glance, the team at Rebuilding Together St. Joseph County didn’t think the home of applicant Maria Jasinski, needed many repairs. Sure, the house needed a little tender love and care, but the 97-year-old homeowner still managed to keep up with minor maintenance, such as trimming the bushes, sweeping the porch and keeping walkways free from obstacles.

Maria has lived in her home for 71 years, and upon further inspection, her house needed work. It needed a new furnace, a new water heater and a new roof. Repairs for the home began in April of 2022, and as these repairs started, they began to learn more about the homeowner.

Looking for work, Jasinski journeyed from Ukraine to Germany and later immigrated to the United States after World War II. She later became a U.S. citizen and settled into her home in South Bend, Indiana, with her husband in 1951. The house had only three rooms when the family moved into it. As the family expanded, so did the house, starting with the addition of rooms followed by a front porch. Her husband worked and did all the repairs as Maria raised the children. Sadly, Maria's husband died when she was just 40 years old, leaving her to tend to the children and home.

Even at 97, Maria remembers moving into her South Bend home. Those memories are just as vivid as those of immigrating to the United States after World War II. As the war ended, Maria recalls rushing to her basement with her twin sister for cover as Russia bombed her neighborhood in Ukraine. While grateful for the safety of her home, Maria says she worries about her family in Ukraine as she doesn't know what's going to happen to them.

As part of the no-cost repairs, Maria’s home received a new furnace, a new water heater, new door frame and a new roof and gutters.

Maria and her family expressed their deep gratitude for the repairs in a heartfelt letter addressed to Program Manager, Kristin Neeley, and the Rebuilding Together St. Joseph County team. Maria and her family plan to maintain the repairs and give back to their community.