Photos by Angela Truong.
Spectrum and Rebuilding Together hosted the first Spectrum Housing Assist Event on Saturday to renovate a local resident’s home in Long Beach’s eastside. Homeowner Nancy Juarez struggles financially to keep the house her children was raised in. She has had two knee replacements and is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Over 40 volunteers from Spectrum, Rebuilding Together and the Long Beach Police Department East came together to help with the renovation, which included adding ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) elements to the home to help Nancy move about more freely.
“The goal for the company is to give back to the communities that we serve,” said Spectrum Senior Director of Communications Dennis Johnson.
Nancy’s daughter, Monica Juarez, had been helping her mom look for grants, loans and programs that would be willing to improve her living conditions when she stumbled upon Rebuilding Together. She said her mom has always been there to help other people, but has a hard time accepting help from others because she feels undeserving.
“Everything that’s being done is a miracle,” Monica said. “These types of things change lives and they really do help people.,” said Monica, who sees the fresh paint on the walls as a symbol of hope that’s something new, clean and something better for her mom.
Monica said they have a ramp but it isn’t great when it comes to her mom’s safety. Nancy also has a mobility chair, which she uses to sleep in the living room because she gets uncomfortable laying down or sitting up. Monica said the new ramp will help her mom be able to get in and out of her home. She has also been able to shower on her own with ADA additions from the project, giving her the ability to get in the shower and move around without someone constantly having to ask if she’s okay.
“Being able to know that you’re capable of doing something helps make you better,” said Monica. “If you keep getting shot down that you can’t do this and you can’t do that, depression, hopelessness and all that sets in.”
Rebuilding Together President Terri Griffith said Nancy messaged her that she was very happy and thankful after an ADA toilet was installed.
“Walking is extremely difficult for her and getting up and down is extremely difficult,” said Griffith. “Getting up and down of an ADA toilet, which is much higher than a regular toilet is much easier for her.”
Spectrum is seeking to improve 50,000 homes by 2020.
During the rebuilding effort, volunteers passed out more than 150 Safe and Healthy Home Kits to neighbors at nearby Heartwell Park and residents of the area. The kits included home items such as a first aid kit, LED night light, smoke alarm, waterproof sealant and disinfecting wipes.