Despite losing his leg, Zephyrhills veteran Ken Fabiani is still very active.
And he can move all kinds of furniture, too.
“I can do anything (anyone with two legs can do),” the former Navy sailor and Vietnam veteran said. “I play golf every Sunday. I putz around in my yard and I do move a lot of furniture.”
For the past three years, Fabiani, through Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731, has been collecting furniture and household items for veterans, who are set up with housing, however, don’t have any furnishings. Fabiani, the Veterans Committee chairperson and past exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge, then loads up furniture and other items on a truck and/or a trailer, and delivers them himself.
At first, he made a delivery maybe once a week. Now, with the help of about a dozen volunteers that are either his neighbors or other members of the Elks Lodge, Fabiani could have up to five deliveries a week.
“Honestly, (I started doing this) because I was bored,” Fabiani said. “Once I got back on my feet after the amputation (because a rod in my reconstructed leg got infected), I needed something to do.
“The need is out there, but the donations are right there with it,” he added. “I’ll get two or three calls while taking out a donation and they’re like when can you be here, and I can’t give them an answer because I’m all over the place. … (Veterans) need everything, when they get a place. It’s just four walls, a ceiling and floor.”
When Fabiani started out, he gave his name and number to Domiciliary Rehab Clinic for Veterans, which then made sure his contact info also was at Tampa Bay Crossroads, New Beginnings and Hog Bash, all of which help veterans get back on their feet and with housing. Several communities, especially those in Pasco County, know how to get ahold of Fabiani, if they’re looking to help a veteran.
“We’ve gone to Scotland Yards, Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club, all over Zephyrhills and Dade City, and Pasco County and Tampa area,” he said. “The word just keeps spreading.”
Fabiani served in the Vietnam War and was in the Navy for eight years. In fact, he was on the infamous aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal, which had an unusual number of fires, including the 1967 fire in which 134 sailors died and 161 more were injured. Fabiani considers himself lucky to survive that, as well as when he left the Navy, he didn’t need quite as much help as other veterans sometimes do.
Alexis Key, an Army veteran, who served four years including a tour in Afghanistan contacted Fabiani after her caseworker gave her his number and, without hassle, her housing through Tampa Crossroads was furnished.
“Sometimes, donations can be shabby,” Key added. “However, I was thoroughly surprised at the quality, but also how he didn’t flake on me. All I had to do was call him up, have a simple conversation of what I needed, and he brought it over.
“(I got) two 2 dressers, pots and pans, a nutribullet, shower curtains, household items and a really, really nice Bible. … He is such a nice man and so kind — it’s just inspiring to see him looking out for us veterans.”
One of his volunteers agrees.
“This is a great and easy way to help veterans,” his neighbor, Dave Greene, said. “So far, he hasn’t been able to keep the supply up with the demand. You often wonder where it all comes from, but then he gets like three phone calls when we’re out taking furniture to another veteran.
“The demand is there, so you kind of wish there was another Ken.”
There’s no slowing down Fabiani, certainly not if there’s a veteran looking from anything to furniture to a microwave to even toiletries. As he sorts through the items at a nearly full, but also donated 10×20 storage unit at Value Store It Self Storage in Wesley Chapel, Fabiani knows nothing will stop him from helping veterans get furniture.
“Maybe a little rain, but, no, we’ll still go out and pick up or deliver furniture. It’s Florida, it’s going to rain, but these vets need the furniture. It’s really unbelievable to really see people in need — as long as they’re veterans, we’ll gladly help them.”
Donate furniture for veterans
If you’re a veteran or know of a veteran who needs furniture, or would like to help Ken Fabiani’s cause by donating furniture, he can be reached at 813-469-8093.
Published July 06, 2022