ZEPHYRHILLS - As Floridians continue to struggle with inflation and a housing crisis, Vietnam War Veteran Ken Fabiani is doing his part to ensure veterans leaving rehab get back on their feet.
What You Need To Know
- Ken Fabiani and volunteers with the Zephyrhills Elks Lodge pick up gently used furniture to donate to veterans
- After recovering from a leg amputation, the 75-year-old says he felt bored and wanted to get active and started this project
- Donors are encouraged to call Elks Lodge if they have furniture they would like to be picked up
Fabiani and volunteers with the Zephyrhills Elks Lodge pick up gently used furniture to donate to veterans who can't afford to furnish their apartments.
"Getting around, I put in my 5,000-10,000 steps a day," said Fabiani.
Many of those steps for the Navy veteran are to and from a donated 10x20 Value Storage Store It Self Storage locker in Wesley Chapel.
- Ken Fabiani and volunteers with the Zephyrhills Elks Lodge pick up gently used furniture to donate to veterans.
- After recovering from a leg amputation, the 75-year-old says he felt bored and wanted to get active and started this project.
- Donors are encouraged to call Elks Lodge if they have furniture they would like to be picked up.
After recovering from a leg amputation, the 75-year-old says he felt bored.
"You gotta stay fit and young. Sitting around doesn't help," he chuckled as he opened the door of the storage unit.
The unit is packed with donated couches, desks, dressers and more that are ready for a new home.
"I've been asked, 'How much do we sell them for?', said Fabiani. "We don't sell them for anything. Everything is free! The vets they are sometimes afraid to ask for too much and I tell them for your service and everything this is the least that we can do for you."
Ken says many of the veterans he meets are experiencing hardships because of the housing crisis.
"These landlords are going crazy jacking up the rent," he said. "Veterans are on a fixed income."
Veterans learn about his services primarily through word of mouth.
"My phone has been going all morning," he said as he scheduled another pick up. "As they say on the road again."
The back of his truck is cleared and ready to load more furniture.
In between calls, he makes pit stops at home.
There he has plently of reminders of his time in vietnam including this August 1967 issue of Life Magazine.
"Right here," he points to his photo on the front cover.
He was photographed with a water hose in his hand and fighting a fire on the USS Forrestal Aircraft carrier.
"It [water hose] stopped the fire from getting to the bomb farm," he said. If it reached the bomb farm it would have blew up. A lot more lives would have been taken."
Ken recalls about 500 men were on the shp including then Lieutenant Commander and Later Senator John McCain.
134 sailors died and 161 more were injured.
Ken says it was his Captain made him aware of the impact he made that day.
"He walks up to me, shakes my hand and says 'Thank you my son, You are a national hero'. I had no idea what he was talking about until he showed me the cover of
Decades later, Kens ays recognition for his service never gets old.
"As a Veteran, If I go out to dinner and a younger generation walks up to me and shakes my hand and says 'Thank You for my service,' It brings tears to my eyes," he said tearfully. "It's a good feeling."
Through the furniture project, he hopes others who fought for their country to feel the same honor.
He says he's already helped more than 180 veterans.
The Zephyrhills Elks Lodge was awarded a spotlight grant worth $2,000.
The state also matched the grant which is used to purchase additional house appliances for local veterans.
Furniture donations and storage units are needed to keep the program going.
Donors are encouraged to reach out to the Elks Lodge if they have furniture they would like to be picked up.