WARNER ROBINS -- When a representative of St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital first approached Warner Robins builder Jeff Liszewski about its Dream Home giveaway three years ago, he admittedly was hesitant.
The St. Jude rep was pressing it as youre going to get a lot more business and a lot more exposure this way by building this home, said Liszewski of Custom Homes by Jeff. I didnt want any more business. I was stressed at the time. It was just me and my brother-in-law that were running the company.
But after researching St. Jude and discussing the proposal to build and donate a home as a fundraiser for the hospital with his wife, Stacy Liszewski, the couple agreed it was the right thing to do.
After all, the couple has two girls, 15-year-old Tiffany and 17-year-old Taylor, and they couldnt think of a better cause than helping families whose children have cancer or other life-threatening diseases, Jeff Liszewski said.
Also, hed been fortunate with his business, and he and his wife wanted to give back to the community.
What its evolved into for me now is -- its not just the right thing to do or a good cause or a sense of being involved in something; Im not sure how you would say it. But it gives you a good feeling, Liszewski said.
Now the third Dream Home that Liszewski donated his time and materials to build is ready for the April 27 St. Jude giveaway.
The Dream Home
Nestled within Amber Falls, a pocket of 15 large homes within The Tiffany subdivision off Feagin Mill Road in Warner Robins, the 3,500-square-foot home is located at 104 Kinley Ann Court. It has five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, custom cabinets, coffered ceilings and an open floor plan. The home is valued at $400,000.
Free weekend tours are now being offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays through April 19. Raffle tickets are $100 each and may be reserved by calling 800-254-5010, visiting www.stjude.org/dhmacon, or going to MidSouth Community Federal Credit Union or Southern Floors & Tile.
Weve sold out at 6,500 in the past, said Ellison White, senior event marketing representative for St. Jude. The big thing that we want to let people to know is that we didnt increase our ticket count, and we did sell out last year, so if they want a ticket, go ahead and get it now.
Raffle tickets sold out in 2013 and 2012 for the prior Dream Homes Liszewski built in Warner Robins, she said.
This year, more than 2,500 tickets had already been sold before Thursdays sneak preview of the home. Tickets went on sale Jan. 29. Also, those who reserve a raffle ticket by 11:59 p.m. Sunday will also be eligible to win a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze from Five Star Automotive Group.
Don Lance, of Macon, won the home last year and sold it, White said. The couple who won it the previous year, Michael and Becky Quinn, moved in.
They are still there and love it. Jeff really builds a great house, White said. I think when people move into his homes, they dont really want to leave.
Liszewski was named the St. Jude Dream Home Builder of the Year in 2013. He received the honor after he did something few builders are able to do: he donated the home and its property in 2013, White said.
This year, through donated labor and materials, all but $60,000 of the $400,000 home was absorbed -- which means St. Jude should net about $590,000 from the giveaway once the $60,000 is subtracted from the expected $650,000 in ticket sales, Liszewski said.
The longer Ive done it, the more Ive learned about St. Jude, and Im so glad I did it, Liszewski said.
St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital treats and researches childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
The biggest impact I get is probably the fact that a patients family when they go up there, they only have to worry about their child, Liszewski said. They dont have to worry about living quarters. St. Jude helps provide them food, transportation to and from the airport. They never get a medical bill.
The hospital goes the extra mile.
The other thing that shocked me when I went up there for a tour was the hospital. They treat the entire child -- not just the part that is sick. So if they need glasses or they need dental work, or anything else that goes on with that child, they handle it right there in that hospital, he said.
Something else folks may not know, White said, is that Middle Georgia has the largest concentration of St. Jude patients than anywhere else in the state.
A lot of times people dont think of St. Jude as something they will need or use in their lifetime, White said. But it could be their friends, or their brother or sister or their neighbors child that needs to be treated there.
Also, the hospital freely shares all its research with doctors and researchers across the nation, including those in Middle Georgia, White said.
The house in Warner Robins is among more than 30 homes up for grabs in 2014 for St. Jude Dream Home giveaways across the country. Its the largest single-event St. Jude fundraiser nationwide and has raised more than $260 million since its creation in 1991, according to the St. Jude Dream Home website.
Shirley and Monroe Clark of Warner Robins took a tour of the house during Thursdays sneak peek. The couple hopes to win the home. But even if they dont, both said they were glad to purchase the ticket.
Its about the children, Monroe Clark noted.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.