Local News

Ben's House Marks A New Beginning For Woodruff Family

Posted April 29, 2001 2:51 a.m. EDT

— Ben Woodruff died in 1996 in a fraternity house fire in Chapel Hill. Five years later, his parents still grieve, but now they are channeling their energy into a special project.

Friday marks the groundbreaking for a home called Ben's House, and it is a special day for Dr. Leon Woodruff, wife Bonnie, and daughter Molly.

Ben's House is a new home in the country and the first of 12 homes on Oak Ranch for teens in trouble.

"We're looking for children who are just headed the wrong way, whose families for whatever reason, can't give them what they need," says Oak Ranch Chairwoman Willa Cane.

"Well it's special to us of course, because it's named for our son Ben, whose birthday is today," says Dr. Woodruff.

"Birthdays and anniversaries and holidays are really tough times, and this really gave us a very positive feel for this day,"says Mrs. Woodruff.

The Woodruffs got involved with the fundraising campaign to make Oak Ranch a reality, and as a way to recover from their loss and to give to others.

"Ben had all the opportunities that these children don't have," says Mrs. Woodruff.

The Cape Fear River shaped the land Oak Ranch sits on, creating mountain like vistas. Oak Ranch will keep the natural beauty but add recreational fields and facilities.

"They can see a different way, and they can practice a different way and they can build relationships with people that can teach them what unconditional love is," says Cane.

Administrators of Oak Ranch hope to welcome their first seven residents by early next year.