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Marine’s a hero for 54 kids who have place to call home

first_imgBut Febbi, the site’s project manager, won’t be with them any longer. He’s moving on to volunteer at a new Habitat for Humanity project in Orange County. It’s called Homes for Heroes, and in addition to building homes for low-income families with children, there will be homes built for the children of soldiers who aren’t coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan. “When I heard what they were doing, I knew that was where I was going next,” Febbi said Wednesday, sitting outside his mobile home parked on the Pacoima site. “I hate to leave, but I know in my heart that’s where I belong now.” Matt’s son, Army Sgt. Richard Febbi, 25, was killed in 2005 in a motorcycle crash while home on leave. He had served four years in the Marines and an additional three in the Army before he died. “He loved his job and his country,” Matt said. “His men would have walked through fire for him, and he for them. He was a born leader, a hero in every sense of the word.” And now his dad – a hero to 54 kids in Pacoima – is moving on to help the families of soldiers who aren’t coming home. Shedding more of his blood, sweat and tears to give some more kids a safer, better life. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. [email protected] (818) 713-3749 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Sweat from hammering nails and laying pipe in the hot, summer sun for eight years – and earning nothing more than a thank you. Tears from having 54 kids put their arms around their waists and thank them as their parents are handed the keys to their first real home. “When the kids run in and see their bedroom, their eyes grow so wide, and the older kids often break down and cry because they’re so happy,” Matt Febbi says. “It breaks your heart. These kids have never known anything but garages and trailers, sleeping three or four to a bed. Now, they have their own bed, their own room in a real house. “They look at you as if you’re some kind of hero for what you’ve done for them,” he says. “I’m no hero. I’m just an old Marine who spent 27 years serving his country, then retired to go help some kids have a better life.” On Saturday, the first phase of 20 homes in the Habitat project will be completed. The last two sets of keys will be handed to fathers and mothers who have spent their weekends for more than two years helping the volunteers build their homes. They all have low-paying jobs, not earning nearly enough to ever dream of owning a new home. They’ll pay what they can afford, then they’ll work off the rest by helping build more homes for more families to follow. It’s the kids he’s going to miss the most, the old Marine says. The 54 children who have come to this Pacoima housing project with nothing during the past eight years and now have something. They’re sleeping in real bedrooms now, not garages. They’re finally able to go outside to play after school with their friends instead of being forced to stay inside for their own safety. Fifty-four kids whom the old Marine and his group of volunteers at this Habitat for Humanity project have shed blood, sweat and tears for to give a safer, better life. Blood from all the nicks and cuts, all the power tools that got away from them as they stood on ladders, walked across roofs, and knelt in dirt to build 20 homes for the kids and their families. last_img read more