Home for the holidays: Habitat for Humanity turns keys over to first time homeowner


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – I want to say…welcome to my house,” said Beneberu “Benny” Birke.

Four words that bring a lifetime of gratitude to so many, especially Beneberu Birke, “Benny” for short, whose life has been quite a journey.

“I was born and raised in Ethiopia which is in Africa,” Birke stated.

After being forced to leave his country, Benny spent five years in a refugee camp in Uganda. He eventually made his way to America nine years ago and recently became a U.S. citizen, but that wasn’t his biggest obstacle.

“He lost his sight at 3-years-old due to illness,” said Vicki Hamilton-Allen; Executive Director of the Capital Region Habitat for Humanity.

It’s Benny’s incredible journey that led Hamilton-Allen along with hundreds of volunteers to give Benny the greatest gift of all…a home.

“I would also like to present to you the keys to your home,” (room claps).

“He has shown me more every day in terms of how to be resilient and strong than I could ever do on my own,” Hamilton-Allen stated.

Since the beginning of spring, friends and volunteers spent hours of hard work building a home for Benny and on Sunday they crowded together as he transitioned into his role as a homeowner.

“It’s a historical day for me, the beginning of another chapter,” said Birke.

“We can build houses all day, every day of course we can but it’s the partnership and the community that is built in tandem with the home that really makes the difference for our home buyers,” Hamilton-Allen added.

And transforms dreams, into a reality.

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