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LI family grateful for Habitat for Humanity help

Nicole Petit-Frere, Jenny Jawaria Amir, and Julia Perl,

Nicole Petit-Frere, Jenny Jawaria Amir, and Julia Perl, Habitat For Humanity volunteers, help rebuild a house in Central Islip on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

By his own admission, Derrek Turchin has never volunteered in his life.

But that was before Habitat for Humanity volunteers showed up Saturday to help him start remodeling a foreclosed Central Islip house that his growing family will soon call home.

"After seeing this -- it's incredible," Turchin, 28, said. "There's probably 30 people here that are just willing to help."

He and his high school sweetheart, Shannon Biase, also 28, live in a cramped basement apartment in Commack with their two young sons. Biase is a stay-at-home mom, and Turchin works at a Toys R Us store in Massapequa.

He said a manager at the store told him about Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that could help the family become first-time home buyers with an affordable mortgage, if they were willing to tackle some of the remodeling. They jumped at the idea.

"We need the space for our boys," Biase said.

The organization said the family met the income limits to qualify for the program. Turchin said he has to contribute 300 hours of labor as part of the deal.

When the family moves in to the three-bedroom home in April, Turchin said they will take on a 30-year mortgage. The home has a big back yard, and the couple is excited to watch their sons, Jameson and Hunter, play there.

"We lucked out, we really did," Turchin said. "It was like buying a Lotto ticket."

Hours after the group started to gut the house Saturday morning, the old kitchen and bathroom were gone, and the walls had been torn out.

Trisha Georghiou, 29, the site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, said she cherishes the moment when a family moves into a house they helped build.

"I love when we hand over the keys, or even like the first day when the family comes and sees their house and they're like, wow, this is where this person is going to sleep," Georghiou said.

Biase said she recently showed Jameson, 2, where his new bedroom will be.

"We want them to know what it's like to stay in one place and not be moving all over," the mother said. "We want them to feel this is their home forever."

As he swung a hammer Saturday, Turchin said the Habitat crew made a powerful impression.

"I can't wait to help build other people's houses, too, and give that back," he said.

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