Marine pleased with La Grange home makeover
Josh Misiewicz, a Marine wounded in the line of duty, had his home remodeled to accommodate a wheelchair by volunteers from Sears Heroes at Home and Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 6:24AM
LA GRANGE — A Marine wounded in Afghanistan said the makeover of his La Grange home is “awesome and amazing” as it helps him get around easier when using a wheelchair.
“I was very impressed. It’s amazing so much was changed and done to the house to help out,” said 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Josh Misiewicz, who returned home June 29 for a two-week break from a rehabilitation program in Bethesda, Md.
“The bathroom is awesome,” he said. “I was banging around hitting everything before. It’s definitely accessible, and this room helps me out the most.”
Nearly a year ago on July 20, Misiewicz lost both legs and his hearing was severely damaged after a buried explosive device detonated while he was patrolling a desert outside Sangin in the Helmand province.
The 2006 graduate of Lyons Township High School has continued progressing as an outpatient and lives in the wounded warriors barracks at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“I’ve been on prosthetics since October, and these are my second ones, with a computerized knee,” he explained. “It’s a lot more normal than walking on the shorties. It’s definitely better on the body and hips, a more normal walking motion.”
Misiewicz said he’s striving to spend more time each day using the prosthetics, though the process is quite tiring during his therapy in Bethesda. He begins and ends the day in a wheelchair and appreciates the wider hallways and doors and a level surface throughout the entire first floor at home.
Remodeling a 1921 home with three levels from former front and back porches presented numerous challenges, said Dan Jedrzejowski, general contractor for the project funded by the Sears Heroes at Home program.
“Making things level and making things fit is what we tried to do,” Jedrzejowski said.
“We tried to do as much as we could and more,” he said. “It was very rewarding. Getting guys to show up was never a problem. Everyone felt like contributing.”
Representatives of Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit group aiding veterans and their families, began meeting with the Misiewicz family in October to assess needed changes and devise plans.
“We’re very lucky to be involved with Sears Heroes at Home. This is the third large home rebuild we’ve done,” said Lisa Miranda, assistant director of the group’s Chicago area office. “They’re very generous.”
Sears donated hardwood flooring, bathroom fixtures and tile for a roll-in shower, a new refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer and a lowered island cabinet designed by Frank Fontana, who hosts “The Down and Dirty” online show.
Sears sent volunteers to help with the project and assisted with construction of a deck with a wheelchair lift overlooking the back yard.
Nancy Misiewicz said one of the most interesting features of the project making life easier for her son is the pot filler, a decorative spigot above the stove.
“Josh could fill a pot for spaghetti without having to carry it from the sink,” she said.
Miranda Do, associate director of veterans housing for the Washington, D.C. office of Rebuilding Together, said the organization has joined with Sears and other sponsors in 150 remodeling projects since the spring, bringing the total to 1,100 projects. Funding is made possible by shoppers who agree to make a donation.
“Sears has raised $16 million since the program began in 2007 with the help of their customers,” Do said.
Josh Misiewicz, who is expected to complete his rehabilitation and return home again in March, said he and his family are grateful.
“Everything is just unbelievable, very well done. It’s just awesome,” he said.