By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time in a long time, Richard Benjamin truly feels like he is at home.

“When we first walked through it, it just had that feeling,” Benjamin said.

This five bedroom house in the Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul is perfect for his family.

“They love the great basement,” Benjamin said. “They run around playing; they love the room to run around their own bedrooms. They love it.”

Thanks to MACV, Benjamin and his family have a permanent home.

Life now is much different than it was a year ago when WCCO first caught up with him.

“I was falling on hard times. I had some things happen,” Benjamin said.

After leaving the Army, Richard lost his job and housing. He left Arizona and made the journey to Minnesota for a new start. Richard ended up in an emergency shelter — that’s when MACV stepped in.

They provided transitional housing just in time for a very special Christmas. The children opened gifts and tested their new bikes, while Richard reflected on all MACV had done for him and his family.

“As a dad, it means to me that finally we are getting back on the right track,” Benjamin said. “Even though I am stilling getting a lot of help from the community and everybody else, it’s a step in the right direction. It gives me hope for a good future.”

A future that is now full of promise with a new home and a new addition to the family. Benjamin’s newest child, Piper, is 10 months old.

“If it wasn’t for the generosity, outreach, caring and just being there from MACV taking the responsibility of us — such a large family — under their wing, sheltering us, providing a Christmas last year and still continuing to follow up and check on us on a regular basis, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are today,” Benjamin said.

Lives changed forever because of the help of MACV and the generosity of WCCO viewers.

“It hurts to ask for help the first time, but once you realize there are people out there who care about you regardless — they don’t even know you and they care and they want to help you — that’s the greatest feeling in the world: to know that you are supported by a community out there,” Benjamin said.

Reg Chapman

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