HANSON — After spending their first year in a fully functional, handicapped accessible dwelling Army veteran Paul Skarinka and his family are settling into their forever home.
This week the Jared Allen Home for Wounded Worriors foundation (JAH4WW) caught up with the Skarinkas via a Zoom conference video call from their State Street home in Hanson.
Paul Skarinka, who was a corporal in the Army when he was wounded serving in Iraq, is a Plympton firefighter/paramedic and both a former resident and a call firefighter for the town of Whitman.
Along with his wife Jenn, and daughter, Lilliana, son Noah did not attend the Zoom reunion, the Skarinka described the family’s “new normal.”
The session also featured a short slide presentation showing behind the scenes views of the building and details of the home coming together as well as how the family takes pleasure in their new space.
Joining in the Zoom reunion were JAH4WW Director and Founder Jared Allen, a retired Minnesota Vikings defensive end, Alex Karalexis Executive Director for Jared Allen Homes 4 Wounded Warriors, a former UFC fighter and native of Hanson, and Amanda Rahtz Director of Communications and Event Planning.
In comparison to their old home, Skarinka said he freely moves around in his wheelchair to whichever room he needs, at anytime, the one level, open living space has no raised doorways and “no speed limit,” he joked.
“There may be the occasional ding in the walls,” he said.
He recalled the family’s old home where two sets of stairs were not only physically dangerous and painful for him to climb, they depleted his ability to stay involved in everyday activities with his young children. Wife Jenn, who also has a full-time career said the days Paul was home were often spent sliding up and down the steps to collect necessities on the lower level of the old house — such as laundry and things for the children to bring to the upper level of the split-level home.
Now, if he wants to take off his prosthetic leg, which weighs approximately 15 pounds, he is able to use his wheelchair inside; meaning less pain and more autonomy. He described a corner of the garage is his “man-town” and wife Jenn has her four-season sitting room, showing that breathing space is bountiful at the Skarinka’s.
In photos shared by the family, the children were seen celebrating Christmas, and Lilliana enjoying the beautiful modern cooking area making a dessert in an accessible kitchen. They are adjusted and enjoying the new house as well as using the full backyard to play in.
The family applied for consideration of the custom home through the JAH4WW organization although they despite the tragedy and struggles which Skarinka deals with daily the family remained humble about the consideration for the new house.
In September 2004, Skarinka was seriously wounded in a grenade blast in Baghdad, which left him suffering from numerous life-altering conditions, including the amputation of his leg. He continues to receive medical treatments and has had countless surgeries.
The JAH4WW foundation was formed in October 2009 after Allen returned home from his USO trip to U.S Military Bases in the Middle East. He was moved by the commitment, dedication, and sacrifices that our soldiers make every day to protect our freedom. He wanted to say thank-you to every soldier in the only way that he knows how.
“By embracing the conflict and making a positive life-changing difference in the lives of those who need it most, our mission is to raise money to build and remodel handicap accessible homes to suit the individual needs of our injured United States military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Allen said. He and his JAH4WW will help make life for wounded vets just a little bit easier.
For further information on becoming involved or donating to the upcoming ventures see the JAH4WW website and all of their current projects (homesforwoundedwarriors.com).