A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to meet 8-year-old Holly and her family, and they remain on my mind.
They live in one of the few homes still standing around Sky Harbor airport. The downstairs consists of a kitchen, living area, and a small ½ bath. All of the bedrooms and a full bath are up the narrowest, steepest stairs I have seen since visiting the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA.
And therein lies the problem.
Holly was born with part of her heart missing. She underwent several surgeries as a baby and toddler and did fine. She was an active, happy kiddo until the surgery when she was four, which changed Holly’s life forever.
During the surgery, Holly had a stroke and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. The family spent the next few years carrying Holly up and down the stairs for baths and bedtime. But now Holly’s condition has changed. She has a tracheostomy tube and is constantly attached to medical machines. Her parents can no longer carry her, and the life-saving equipment, up and down the stairs. Instead, the small living room has become her world. The room is filled with medical supplies and equipment. Mom and Dad take turns sleeping on the couch so they can monitor her. There is a hospital bed next to the front door where Holly sleeps. The bed also serves as the bathroom, as it is the only place for Holly’s parents to change her diapers and bathe her in a large plastic baby bathtub. There is no privacy, yet Holly’s parents try very hard to maintain her dignity, which gets more difficult to do as Holly gets older.
Ya’ll, my heart aches for this little girl and her family! But without the help of some really generous people, there isn’t a lot I can do. There is nowhere to install a lift in the house, which means taking Holly upstairs is not an option. They need a bedroom and bathroom added to the first floor, to give Holly privacy and allow the family to take back some living space. Or better yet, a new house that has everything on the same floor, so Holly can interact more easily with her brother and other family members.
Holly’s story has affected me more than any other in the last six years, and heaven knows I have met a lot of families dealing with difficult housing situations. I keep trying to piece together help for this sweet family, but it is not enough. So, I am asking you all for help. Do you know a generous contractor who could put together a drawing for an addition? Or better yet, a contractor who would take on the task, out of the goodness of their heart, to build the necessary addition? Or maybe you, or someone you know, has a house they could provide for the family. Donating a house would be a HUGE tax deduction! Something to think about before the tax man comes calling.
I am open to ideas. Please, help us give Holly the gift of dignity this holiday season.