CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A small San Diego non-profit organization that offers free home remodels is looking for more community support. In this Zevely Zone, this is part two of my two-part series on Rebuilding Together San Diego.
Nine years ago, Tom Lukasiewitz a longtime Chula Vista contractor, was perplexed by what was happening to his body. "All of a sudden I just started feeling weaker, things just didn't add up and all of a sudden I just was falling out of the blue, my leg would give, and I'd say what's going on?" said Tom who is 51 years old.
Neurologists diagnosed Tom with a rare disease called Inclusion Body Myositis. "All of my muscles deteriorated. I got weaker and weaker and weaker. I went from walking with a cane, to a walker, and now permanently into a wheelchair," said Tom.
As a contractor, Tom was always willing to help a neighbor which is why Rebuilding Together San Diego rolled up their sleeves on his birthday. "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you," sang a group of volunteers at his home.
"You can't not love this guy, he is so positive," said project manager Deanne Hutchison from Rebuilding Together San Diego. As if Tom had not gone through enough, Deanne told us his home also caught on fire. "The community came together like nobody's business and Tom's life has been completely turned around," said Deanne.
Walls had to be fixed, but why stop there? Volunteers painted his house, poured a new patio, put on a new roof and relandscaped too.
Eric McCormick and Sigel Candia from DPR Contruction were just two of the magic makers. "This guy is amazing I mean considering what he is going through and what he's been dealt we actually had a lot of fun here and we were able to laugh," said Eric.
DPR Construction volunteered their time and donated the materials. The company wants to encourage other businesses to pay it forward. Another corporate sponsor on this generous project was Sharp Healthcare.
"I think really it's going back to helping the local community," said Sigel. In this case, they wanted to help a fellow contractor. "Before I wasn't able to get anywhere past this point," said Tom who took us for a tour of his home in his wheelchair. One of the projects DPR Contruction provided was widening the door frame to Tom's bathroom so he and his wheelchair could fit into the space.
For three years before that happened, Tom and his family resorted to desperate measures. Tom told me his wife would take him in their front yard to give him shower with a garden hose. "She would get the hose and spray me down. Outside in the wintertime like right now in the cold there were sometimes when it was 50 degrees outside and I'm getting washed down with a hose. It was terrible I don't recommend that to anybody," said Tom.
Volunteers not only rebuilt Tom's bathroom but gave him a new kitchen too. "When something bad happens in your life and you think there is no one out there to help, there is Rebuilding Together San Diego. They came in and said we are going to help you," said Tom who is no longer able to use his hand and work as a contractor. The best part of his $100,000 remodel? At the end of a project, a homeowner usually gets a bill but not this time. "Nothing," said Sigel with a big smile. Tom doesn't get a bill. The remodel is totally free.
Rebuilding Together San Diego strives to help deserving families and eradicate poverty housing. They need donations, volunteers and corporate sponsorship. Rebuilding Together San Diego is also looking for more families to help.
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