Heart Behind the House, Builder Tony Garczynski
We are sad to report one of our builders Tony passed away in his sleep after writing this article. We are forever in his debt for his contributions to the Fisher House program.
Even though it was 23 years ago, I remember it well. We received a phone call from a civilian architect working for the Navy. He asked us if we would take a look at plans for a Fisher House to be built at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. He first needed to explain what a Fisher House was – we’d never heard of it. Upon learning what a Fisher House provided to our military families, I said YES with enthusiasm.
Little did I know, that would be the beginning of a very special relationship that has lasted more than two decades! If someone had told me then that we would still be working with the Fisher Family in 20+ years, I would not have believed it, especially since there were a limited number of military installations in San Diego, our hometown.
After the Balboa Fisher House was completed, it was mentioned that they would be building another Fisher House at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu and they asked if I would be interested in building it. Again, I said "Yes” with even more enthusiasm. That has led to building these beautiful homes on the East Coast, the West Coast, in the Midwest, Utah and Texas.
Currently, we are working on our 18th Fisher House at Camp Pendleton, our second project at that facility. In 1997, we constructed a drop-in Day Care Center at Pendleton - the first Fisher project constructed for the Marines. Moving forward, we have two more houses scheduled to begin this spring in Tucson and Milwaukee.
I have always enjoyed building custom homes, as there is a great deal of personal satisfaction in helping a family create their dream home. With the Fisher Houses, the satisfaction is even greater because we are creating a beautiful home for many families to use during one of the most challenging times of their lives. Since multiple families are using these homes at the same time, they have a built-in support system in their shared experiences.
My favorite spaces in the houses are the large family-style kitchens, the warmly designed family rooms and dining rooms. All these spaces combined provide the family-centered areas that all families will use in their day to day existence. It is here that family members share their individual stories and receive tremendous support from one another. When we go to the dedications of the houses, it is wonderful and overwhelming at the same time, to hear the families who are staying there tell us how grateful they are for this shared support system.
Looking back over my career, working for the Fisher Family and the Fisher House Foundation has been the most rewarding work I have ever done. The tremendous dedication, generosity and support of the Fisher Family and the Fisher House Foundation staff is an overwhelming inspiration for all of us here at my company and everyone who is fortunate enough to be able to be a part of the team. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share in the Fisher House Foundation mission of providing a home away from home for military families during their time of need. – Tony Garczynski