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Completed Ramp

This month, Rebuilding Together Acadiana had the opportunity to construct a wheelchair ramp for a little boy, named Joey, who was born under difficult circumstances. His mother, Christina, is a nurse in Lafayette, and she met Joey one night while working. She was taking care of him in the NICU, when his biological mother came in to visit. She wanted to turn off Joey’s ventilator and let him go. Christina was heartbroken at the idea, and she and her husband ended up getting their foster parent certification. After spending 125 days in NICU, that sweet little boy went home with them.

Fast forward a bit and they are officially his parents. Joey is now almost 2.5 years old but unable to crawl or walk. James, his father, takes care of Joey most days, but both parents work. Joey has several health issues due to bleeding in his brain. Among his diagnoses is cerebral palsy. He receives regular shots of Botox in his legs and physical therapy in an attempt to loosen his muscles, but for now he must use a wheelchair in order to get around and in order to get to his numerous doctor visits.

James and Christina have ordered Joey his wheelchair, and now they have a completed ramp. Our AmeriCorps members and volunteers were touched to be able to construct this for Joey and with the help of his father, James.

Getting him in and out of the home will now be much easier and safer.

 

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In April, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers from California and Missouri flew to Lafayette to assist Rebuilding Together Acadiana in the ongoing flood recovery effort. They worked on a home in Abbeville, LA for Ms. Alanda, who is affectionately referred to as Aly by friends and neighbors. Each team stayed for one week and drove every day from Lafayette to Abbeville to work on Ms. Aly’s house.

During the storm in August, a tree had fallen on the back part of Ms. Aly’s house, causing rain to fall in her home. Water quickly filled up the space underneath her house and ruined her floors. Although the interior of her house was not affected by rising water, she received enough damage by the rain to make her home uninhabitable. It wouldn’t be until June of 2017, that volunteers taking part in the Eight Days of Hope event would make it to Ms. Aly’s to finally gut the home and remove all of the hazardous materials. Unfortunately once the home was gutted, it revealed issues of delayed maintenance which would need addressing prior to rebuilding. By the end of 2017, Ms. Aly’s house had reached a point where all the walls and cabinets had been rebuilt. Only the finishing touches remained.

When Rebuilding Together Acadiana spoke with Ms. Aly in advance of the volunteers’ arrival, she was overwhelmed with joy. She could see the light at the end of the tunnel. After being displaced from her home for two years, she was ready to move back. Ms. Aly works nights and evenings caring for the elderly, trying to make ends meet. She carries fluid in her spine, which has limited her ability to do much on the home. Undeterred, however, Ms. Aly cleaned behind volunteers during her visits. She even brought her mother and niece to see the progress. Helping homeowners like Ms. Aly is a privilege and a joy for RTA and the volunteers alike. Now that she has returned home, she is excited to have a place for her grand-babies to visit again.

 

In August of 2016, Theresa and Donald Stone were affected by the heavy rain and historic flooding. After their daughter’s house flooded that Friday, their house began to take on water, leaving them with nowhere to turn. Outside, the water was at least fourteen inches high. Mr. Donald placed a pump in the living room and got it down to about two inches by the Sunday afternoon. He cleaned the house and continued to attempt to get the water out for a series of five days by himself, all the while living in the house. For the next two weeks, Mr. Donald had to gut the house in order to prevent the spread and growth of mold. He took great pains to make sure his wife, who suffers from chronic pulmonary disease and lives on an oxygen machine, would not be harmed by the contaminants in the air. ReStore Louisiana showed up with the application for Donald and Theresa to have their house repaired, but after nine months of paperwork, interviews, and a plethora of supervisors with seemingly nothing getting done, Mr. Donald began to lose hope. He called his case manager with UpBring Disaster Response to let them know he wanted to continue on to get his house fixed up even if it took him ten years. That following Monday, representatives from Rebuilding Together Acadiana and the Acadiana Long Term Recovery network showed up to notify him the house would be repaired.

Throughout the repair process, Mrs. Theresa had been living with their daughter since her COPD prevented her from being in the home with all of the dust and debris created by the work. Mr. Donald watched the progression of their house and would sneak in after the volunteers had left to take photos to show Mrs. Theresa. Rebuilding Together Acadiana partnered with volunteers from the Order of Malta and the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to complete the repairs, and Mr. Donald enjoyed having the opportunity to meet people from all over the U.S. and Acadiana who had given their time to help out people in need. He expressed how grateful he was, exclaiming that “some women even took the time to clean out my wife’s flower beds!” His heart was overwhelmed with the kindness of everyone who helped them to get their home back, and said his wife prayed for everyone who walked through the door to lend a helping hand.

 

At the end of the two week journey, Mr. Donald expressed his excitement for his wife to come home and knows she will be filled with joy knowing she can stay in their home of thirteen years once again.

 

It has been a month since record rainfall tragically flooded our state and people are still struggling to recover. The flood waters have receded and Rebuilding Together Acadiana is currently helping in the clean-up process. In partnership with AmeriCorps members through University of Louisiana Lafayette,  NCCC and ADRT and collaborations with other organizations like Lafayette Habitat for Humanity, we have been serving throughout the community to help those whose homes are still being threatened by the after effects of the historic flooding here in Acadiana.

The relief effort is ongoing and Rebuilding Together Acadiana is proud to lead in that effort.  We are preparing for the transition to home rebuilding and are looking forwards to helping families return to their homes and lives!

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Summer 2016 brings us our new SummerCorps members, Ryant Johnson and Elizabeth Louviere!  Ryant is working on his bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts with a concentration in Photography from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  He is also a member of UL Lafayette AmeriCorps.  Elizabeth is working on her master’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  She is a former member of UL Lafayette AmeriCorps. For this dynamic duo, a summer without servicing their community was not an option!

We must also say a bittersweet farewell to our departing Capacity Corps members, Karleigh Presutti and Grace Long. Karleigh is heading back home to New York while Grace is headed to their next adventure in Australia! During their service year they worked on over eleven homes in Acadiana. We are sad to see them go, but we are excited to see where their love of service will lead them next!

(Left to right: Ryant, Elizabeth, Grace, Karleigh)

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Rebuilding Together has acquired some new members! Introducing our new SummerCorps members, Nick Jeffery and Jonta Vedol. We are very excited to see what they can contribute to the Rebuilding Together team. Nick is currently enrolled at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is also part of UL’s AmeriCorps program. Jonta is from New Orleans and is completing his undergrad at Tulane University.

We also want to introduce our intern, Kiana Cornish. Kiana is going to be a senior at Acadiana high school this fall and is part of Future Business Leaders of America. She plans to further her education at University of Louisiana studying accounting and nursing.

And last but not least, we would like to send a big farewell to our CapacityCorps members Caroline Beachy and Karleigh Presutti. Caroline will be headed back to Columbus, Ohio where she will be serving a second term with Rebuilding Together Central Ohio. We are going to miss her! Karleigh plans on going back to Angelica, New York for the summer and will return to serve a second term with Rebuilding Together Acadiana. We are excited to have her come back in August. Caroline and Karleigh have been such a great part of the team, we wish them both the best of luck with their second terms! 11653286_974367985928466_929014114_n 11652067_974367982595133_949079280_n 11419783_974367965928468_147417103_n 11647339_974367979261800_1939962883_n 11650858_974367972595134_1246429317_n 11655130_974367975928467_1714602109_n

Rebuilding Together Acadiana had the opportunity to serve with some amazing UL Lafayette AmeriCorps members this year. With their help, RTA completed a total of 10 wheelchair ramps, among other home repairs for low-income elderly and/or disabled homeowners. We could not have done it without them and appreciate the time they’ve invested in our community. Thank you all for your service and we hope to serve alongside you again in the future!

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Rebuilding Together Acadiana, there are still projects that could use your help! For more information, please email us: karleigh.rtacadiana@gmail.com or call us: (337) 291-9910.