Community steps up to help grandparents in Dearborn Heights

Family says several community members, companies have given to their home projects over the years

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. – A family unit formed by challenging circumstances is getting some much-needed help expanding its home.

Their story has inspired a community construction project of sorts which is why so many people have felt inspired to help in Dearborn Heights.

Tom and Debbie Wencel have lived in their home for 30 years, but six years ago, when their daughter Jamie died shortly after the birth of her fifth child, they took their grandchildren in, but the home was not meant to fit seven people.

Thanks to Grand Rapids-based Williams Distributing, that will be a thing of the past as they heard about the Welcel family story.

“Grandparents coming, stepping up changing their retirement plans to be the parents to raise their five grandchildren, it’s something to be commended,” said Kenneth Campbell of Williams Distributing.

Campbell reached out and even made a visit to take measurements. Several designs later, he and his team were installing them.

“It’s a team of salespeople that cover Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, so we have people from all three states, all the way up to Iron Mountain in the U.P,” Campbell said.

The material and labor typically cost thousands. The Wencels thought they were getting a discount, but later, they discovered Williams Distributing was donating a gift they couldn’t imagine receiving.

“My wife just fell on the floor,” said Tom Wencel. “I was crying. It’s something. I was going to build my own cabinets. They put this one cabinet in this pantry, and it’s bigger than anything we’ve ever had.”

Wencel says several community members and companies have given to their home projects over the years.

“I’ll be out in the yard, and some guy will drive by, and he’ll say, ‘Hey, are you the guy with the five kids? I’ve seen you on Facebook, and I’m a plumber, so if you need some help, let me know I’ll volunteer some time,’” Wencel said.

The family created a nonprofit, Jaime’s Kids, where they do service projects for the community and raise money for their project. For information on how you can get involved, click here.

About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.