VILLA PARK – Proudly surveying her new living room Monday evening, Beth Jarosy tried to put into context the vast changes that had recently occurred in the common space of her Villa Park residence.
“Everything in here is better than I ever would have dreamed,” she said with an excited smile.
Jarosy, a U.S. Navy veteran, was the recent recipient of a living room makeover courtesy of a partnership between Fox Valley ReStore and DuPage Habitat for Humanity, as well as designer Kevin Grace and the team at ABC 7’s Windy City LIVE.
ReStore, a nonprofit organization that raises funding and collects donated housing materials to support Habitat for Humanity, initiated the makeover idea with the goal of giving back to a local veteran, said Randy Hamann, general manager of ReStore.
Working in conjunction with the DuPage chapter of Habitat, the organizations eventually chose Jarosy, who served as an information systems technician from 1996 to 2004.
Unbeknownst to her, Jarosy was surprised with the makeover news on a Veterans Day episode of Windy City LIVE, a daytime talk show featuring hosts Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini. Grace, whose segment, “Kevin Grace, Save My Space,” has been a feature on the show for the past year, said Jarosy was the perfect person to honor.
“She is a veteran, but she is also a female veteran,” said Grace, a former contestant on HGTV’s “Design Star.” “We always think of the men, but there are so many women involved in our military that it just made sense.”
Jarosy, a mother of three who grew up in Lombard, initially struggled to find a permanent home for her family after being discharged from the Navy Reserve in 2004. After moving more than half a dozen times, the Glenbard East High School graduate became a homeowner in 2009 through DuPage Habitat.
Habitat’s Veteran’s initiative helps alleviate the shortage of quality housing that often directly affects veterans.
The house on Ridge Road was one that Jarosy had previously driven by, and despite damage to the roof, she remembers telling herself, “that is going to be my home.” To her benefit, the house was one Habitat also had an eye on remodeling, and shortly after, Jarosy and her children moved in.
In four years since, her children have settled in and Jarosy met and married her husband, Nate. Last week, the family had to briefly vacate their home as Grace and the ReStore team moved in to renovate the living room, as well as the attached kitchen area.
Jarosy and her family were hosted by the Fairfield Inn and Suites in St. Charles and were also given a weekend full of free vouchers for local food and activities to keep them occupied as their house was turned into a construction zone, then quickly built back up.
From the carpeting to the furniture to a Christmas tree and presents, everything incorporated into the makeover was donated by local businesses like Value City, Best Way Carpet, West Elm and Crate & Barrel, Grace said.
“We have a zero budget,” he said. “You get what you get and the challenge is putting things together into a cohesive design. It’s quite a challenge, but it’s a good challenge.”
After a weekend away, Jarosy and her family returned to their home Sunday in an unveiling that was recorded for television. Jarosy’s first reaction: “Is this my house?”
“I was just speechless,” she recalled Monday. “It’s beautiful, I would never have imagined any of this.”
For Jarosy, the best feature of her family’s new living room is the organization.
“I’m very grateful for my home, but it’s not a huge home and the living room and kitchen is our hub – it’s where we spend most of our time,” she said. “I wanted a space where we could be a family and not be on top of each other.”
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For more information or to donate to the Fox Valley ReStore, visit www.foxvalleyrestore.org.