During the last week of June, Jonathan Bernal, an Army veteran who was injured during the Iraq War, received much-needed assistance repairing the exterior of his Oakdale home. The American Building Contractors, Inc. teamed up with the Builders Association of the Twin Cities Foundation to cover all associated costs for the extensive repairs. According to Bernal, the siding had been a problem on his Heath Avenue North home for about three years.
It had gotten so bad that birds had begun to live in the walls, especially the walls around his daughter's bedroom. "She was afraid that the birds were going to get her at night," Bernal said about 4-year old Macy. Bernal and his wife, Theresa, also have an 8-year old son, Alex. Bernal said it will be a relief to have the house repaired because so many things could have gone wrong as a result of the deteriorating siding, including an electrical fire or mold damage. "I couldn't afford any of this, ... I wouldn't be able to get approved for a loan or anything," he added.
Bernal was a member of the Army Reserves when his unit was deployed to Iraq in July 2008. In December of that year, his left ankle received an avulsion fracture when he hopped off the back of a semi-truck's flatbed. "I did not receive proper medical care while I was overseas and the injury healed wrong; the pain never went away and continued to spread up my leg while I was overseas," Bernal said, explaining that he continued to be sent out on military missions with the injury.
Bernal said the pain worsened when arriving home after his deployment. He was on crutches at the time and couldn't walk very well. He said he couldn't work for the first year because he couldn't stand for more than a few minutes. He has had four ankle surgeries but the pain has continued, and he was eventually diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. Bernal received injections in his spine for the pain, but he said something was damaged at the site of an injection, and pain began to take over almost his entire body making it difficult to hold down a steady job or earn enough money to cover his family's bills. Bernal said that now he can only stand for a few minutes and can no longer maneuver around on his own in a manual wheelchair.
Josh Moe, a vice president of American Building Contractors, Inc. said that ABC has partnered with the BATC Foundation on a few similar projects, but this was the first opportunity for them to be involved from start to finish. ABC donated all the labor and management for the three-day project, and the BATC Foundation paid for the materials except for the shingles, which were donated. "We're always trying to find opportunities where we can give back to the community," Moe said. "We felt privileged. It was a great opportunity to give a little bit back to Jon and his family, who have made such a sacrifice over the years."
Jeff Dawson, the project manager on the jobsite and a veteran himself, said he jumped on the opportunity to "help out a brother." "I feel truly honored and blessed to be working here and to help this family out and try to give a little bit back to not only what he has given, but what his family has sacrificed," Dawson said. "He's not just a number to me. He's a brother."
Volunteer Day/Jemelka Project
Jason served 8 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, completed 3 tours in Iraq and now serves in the Minnesota National Guard. His wife Genella suffers from medical complications related to several surgeries and can no longer work. Because of the medical expenses, there is little left over for home repairs.
Thanks to Bachman's donation of plants and other materials, volunteers helped landscape the front lawn and install trenching to keep water from the house. With a generous donation of flooring from Focal Point Flooring the Jemelkas kitchen and a bathroom floor was ripped up and replaced. Volunteers hooked up appliances donated by Pulte - including a dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, and washer and dryer. Lastly, volunteers set up a new playset donated by the BATC Foundation for the Jemelkas 3 children.
Lyman Lumber provided lunch for the volunteers from "Not Just a Bar" in Stillwater. Donated windows and a few interior doors from Sherco Construction will be installed in the coming weeks. A concrete slab on the house was replaced by the BATC Foundation earlier this year after the old slab started to sink into the house and cause the basement foundation to start to buckle.
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make a difference for this deserving family! Thanks to these BATC members who donated product and/or labor: Bachman's Floral Gift & Garden, FocalPoint Flooring, Lyman Lumber, Pulte Homes of MN, Soderbeck Design
Homecoming for Marco Solt
Feet were cold but hearts were warm as more than a hundred people, including Senators Al Frankin and Amy Klobuchar, gathered together in November to welcome Army Spc Marco Solt and his family to their brand new, specially adapted home. Built in partnership with local builder Accent Homes and Homes for Our Troops, the mortgage free home features more than 40 special adaptations to help Marco, who lost both legs on a tour in Afghanistan.
Remodeling the "Blue Bird House" with Homeward Bound
In 2015, the BATC Foundation also made dreams come true for the residents and staff of Blue Bird House, a group home operated by Homeward Bound. Plymouth based Homeward Bound was formed by a group of parents who needed a high level of medical care for their children, but wanted a more home-like atmosphere than a nursing home could provide.
Today, four medically fragile men at Homeward Bound’s Bluebird House are now enjoying a more comfortable and spacious home thanks to the BATC Foundation and local remodeler Vujovich Design Build. The home has been transformed by the addition of a light filled great room, the addition of a second bathroom and bedroom, more storage and a first floor laundry room. While the entire renovation wasn’t quite finished, the men at Bluebird House recently celebrated their first holiday season in their new digs. All indications are that they thoroughly approve!
Finishing Karen's Basement
Karen was a Surgical RN when she needed to have emergency back surgery. During the surgery something went very wrong and Karen was left with brain damage that resulted in an extreme sensitivity to light.
Six years ago she used some of her settlement money to remodel her basement. Unfortunately, an unscrupulous contractor took advantage of Karen and left her with a flooded basement and most of the work uncompleted. However, Karen has not been one to let her disability get her down. She often does things for her neighbors after dark and has been known to plow her neighbor's driveways after snowfalls. Working through Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, the BATC Foundation and Build Partner Finished Basement Company, will be helping Karen complete her basement project.
When her son Zach Mohs was hit and left for dead on an Anchorage street in September of 2012, doctors told Cheryl Young that her son would not survive. They would try to keep him alive until she could get there. Cheryl never gave up her firm belief that Zach would not only survive, but that he would someday walk again.
After getting Zack through his darkest times, Cheryl had him transferred to the Courage Center in Golden Valley for his long journey back to recovery. Zach defied all expectations that this accident would cripple him and transform his life for the worst; some of the doctors had never seen such an amazing recovery.
Cheryl then rallied friends and family around her personal dream: an accessible home for Zach that would accommodate his mobility needs, and give him a place where he can continue his recovery. After such a scare and then a amazing recovery, there was no doubt in Cheryl's mind that Zach would ever be defeated by his injuries.
Cheryl spent several months turning her dream for Zach into reality. House plans were donated, a lot in South St. Paul was purchased and a foundation put in. Then, Cheryl approached the BATC Foundation for help. Her steadfast belief in her son and his remarkable progress moved BATC Foundation staff and volunteers alike.
Thanks to enormous support from Build Partner JK Anderson, the partnership of Rebuilding Together, Barn Raisings, and the Twin Cities building community, Cheryl’s dream of a home for Zach was finally completed in June, 2014.
Special Spaces Minneapolis: Eli's Bedroom and Kate the Great
Eli is an active four year old boy that enjoys nothing more than race cars and
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For all children, their bedroom is their "special space;" a private area where they can feel comfortable and in control. For Eli, it is even more important: he has Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (update: it is luckily now in remission), and it is imperative that Eli can have a space where he can heal in a relaxed and worry-free zone.
The BATC Foundation partnered with Special Spaces Minneapolis, a subdivision of a national organization that donates custom rooms to children with life-threatening illnesses. Together, they hosted a design competition in order to remodel Eli's room. The competition was rigorous, and the winning design was selected at the April BATC Builders and Remodelers Show.
The design firm Che Bella Interiors won, with a few modifications made to the original plan. They even remodeled the entire room themselves. This was certainly something out of the norm for them! In early June, the room was 100% completed.
Che Bella put together an amazing design which can be seen in the slideshow to the right. What Eli loves most is the new racetrack on his wall; he can place different cars on it and have his own races in his room! The Che Bella team also added some clever storage spaces; the steps to the top of the bunk bed are actually pull-out drawers. And of course, it wouldn't be fair if brother Eli received all the attention, so his sister's room was given a fresh coat of paint and Emma received some presents she loved!
Kate the Great has Stage II Pfeiffer Syndrome, which makes her bedroom even more difficult. Besides needing a special space where she can forget about all her worries, she needs a 24 nursing station as well. Bob Michels Construction led the way as our Build Partner on this project, and his daughter, Danielle did most of the design! Her mom told us that since the project began, Kate kept trying to sneak into the room and see the finished result-when she finally got to see it she signed "Like" in ASL with a very big grin!
Rebuilding Together Twin Cities
Our partnership with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities continued with two small projects designed to make housing safer for our Twin Cities community members. Nancy Davis-Ortiz is a retired Army reservist and single mom who needed some help with with damaged floors. Our Builder Partner Village Floor donated new flooring and installation. John Boyle has been suffering from the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury, and he contacted Rebuilding Together Twin Cities to ask for help repairing his back stairs. Currently unusable, his steps need to be repaired to give John a second fire exit.
Minneapolis Veterans Administration
Vietnam Veteran David Davidson and his wife Penny are safe and secure at home thanks to a partnership with the VA. A former marathon runner, Dave began to experience neurological problems which eventually led to his inability to work. A diagnosis remained elusive despite visits to Mayo clinic and repeated visits to the VA Hospital. Without a diagnosis, VA benefits did not kick in and the couple were dependent on Penny's medical insurance. As bills piled up it became clear that Dave would soon need to be in wheelchair. Their modest south Minneapolis home would need renovation to accommodate their new lifestyle. The BATC Foundation worked with Builder Partner John Kraemer and Sons to provide for a complete bathroom remodel, widening of doorways and the completion of other small projects designed to make the Davidson's more comfortable in their beloved home. In an magnanimous move, this project was funded completely by donations from John Kraemer and Sons and their suppliers. Update: Dave has recently received a diagnosis of ALS.
Project for Pride in Living
We completed a project for a single mom and grandmother who were the victim of an irresponsible house-flipper. Sonya thought she had purchased her dream home, only to find that the "repairs" completed were cosmetic and her home needed thousands of dollars of improvements to make it safe for her and her family; some of the issues included toxic lead paint and inadequate ventilation in the home. Our Builder Partner Thompson Exteriors reached out and partnered with the Foundation on this project.
Projects in 2012
Rebuilding Together Twin Cities Partnership
The Foundation partnered with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities and Builder Partner Ironwood Carpentry to repair three North Minneapolis homes to contribute to the safety and well being of the families who live there.
Jablonski Accessibility Project
Awad & Koontz Architects Builders Inc. and Kuhl Design & Build partnered with the Foundation to remodel the home of Jack Jablonski, a High School sophomore who took a paralyzing hit during a hockey game in 2011. The Foundation managed the incoming donations and funding process of the project.
With the help of builder partner, Soderbeck Design and Construction, the Foundation repaired and renovated the home of this wounded Veteran. Noah was injured in Kuwait and needed a number of changes to his home to ensure his safety and comfort.
History of Projects
2013: Repaired and re-mediated the home of single mom and grandma, in partnership with Project for Pride in Living. Thank you to our Builder Partner Thompson Exteriors.
2012: Repaired the home of injured Veteran Noah Thank you to our Builder Partner Soderbeck Design and Construction.
2012: Renovated the home of injured high school hockey star Jack Jablonksi. Thank you to our Builder Partners Awad & Koontz Architects & Builders and Kuhl Design & Build.
2012: Repaired three North Minneapolis Homes damaged in the 2011 tornadoes in partnership with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities. Thank you to our Builder Partner Ironwood Carpentry.
2011: Built a new home in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Thanks to many volunteers and project manager Mike McCalvy, BATC Emeritus member.
2011: Renovated the home of wounded Veteran Wesley in two phases. Thank you to our Builder Partner James Barton Design Build.
2011: Finished the lower level to create more bedroom and bath space for the Vangs.Thank you to our Builder Partner Showcase Renovations.
2010: ReBuild Haiti in partnership with World Wide Village where teams of BATC Builders lent their expertise to construct homes in earthquake shattered Haiti.
2010: Foundation volunteers constructed our Foundation Chalet which has been used for promotion of the Foundation and rented out.
2010: Built a fence with Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners in Wayzata.
2010: Remodeled a home for Brady in Eden Prairie.
2008: Operation Dream Makeover, the complete renovation of the home for a wounded Iraq war veteran.
2008: A new home in the Lowell Curve neighborhood of Minneapolis in partnership with Project for Pride in Living, and build partner Lake Country Builders.
2007: A new home in the Frogtown area with build partner Aulik & Associates, Inc.
2006: A new home in the Frogtown area with build partner Bruggeman Homes and another home in the area in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
2004: Two new duplexes (four homes) in the Frogtown area with Build Partner Rottlund Homes.
2001: Five new homes in a Habitat for Humanity development in Burnsville.
2001: A new home in the Frogtown area constructed by Foundation volunteers.
2000: A new home in the Frogtown area builds during the MN State Fair, and then and moved to its home site.
2000: A new home in the Frogtown area constructed by Foundation volunteers.
1998: A new home in the Frogtown area constructed by Foundation volunteers.
1997: A new home in the Frogtown area constructed by Foundation volunteers.
1994: A fully renovated home in the Frogtown area constructed by Foundation volunteers.
1993: A renovation in Wayzata in partnership with Interfaith Outreach.
1992: A remodeled home in Richfield in partnership with Cornerstone Advocacy Group.