Categories: Veteran, Habitat Happenings, Family Stories, Home Repair, Habitat Tucson

A stranger’s kindness led to our community’s help

Paul Rodriguez is a 96-year-old Veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War who was wounded in both wars. He served as a paratrooper and in the Army Corps of Engineers. Habitat Tucson is proud to have supported him and his family with a large Home Repair project dedicated to safety and accessibility.

After the wars, Paul was discharged by a doctor who knew about his wounds but told him, “As long as you can walk in a straight line, I’m going to write down that your health is alright.” This meant that in the long run, Paul wasn’t eligible for some benefits that he should have been able to access. Eventually, his mobility and overall health were negatively affected by his wounds. Now, he uses wheelchairs and oxygen to get around, but he is still an active and witty conversationalist.

His son David and his daughter moved in to help take care of him. Unfortunately, February of 2021 brought tragedy to their family. Paul was hospitalized for three months due to COVID-induced pneumonia. Paul’s wife Amelia, the mother of his children, passed away from the virus during that time. Then Paul’s daughter Sonia was infected, hospitalizing her and leaving her with long-term disabilities.

David is now the primary caretaker of both his sister and his father, Paul. David says, “For me, I was sinking. My sister is also in a wheelchair. I had to run between them to take care of them at the same time. It was often very traumatic, and very stressful to be here.” Even worse, the bathroom wasn’t accessible. The roof started leaking, creating serious water damage in the hallway and in Paul’s bedroom. David was going to try to take out a personal loan himself to fix the house. Then Paul received a blessing in disguise. Paul was assigned to a new caseworker through the V.A. named Sara McCauley.

Once the paperwork went through and the repair was scheduled, the work only took about three weeks. David says, “They did everything they could do to make sure he had a comfortable space to live in. The way they interacted with us and the respect they showed my father was great. And the work was so meticulous. They told us, ‘Whatever your dad needs, we’re gonna get it done’.”

Habitat replaced the damaged parts of the roof, repaired the water damage in the hallway and in Paul’s bedroom, fixed the kitchen sink, and weatherized the external doors. Perhaps the most impactful repair was creating a roll-in shower with lots of accessibility features such as grab bars and detachable showerheads. Now, David’s whole family can take showers without worrying about their safety.

“We are so thankful to Habitat for considering my dad for this opportunity. He deserves it. For every Veteran who has been trampled on, who has PTSD or injuries, who was pushed through things they maybe didn’t understand, they deserve it so much. I feel so much gratitude to Home Depot, because I know they provided the funds for the repair. Everyone at Habitat, like Rich and Jan, was so responsive, nice, and incredible. There’s no shortage of gratitude.”

1 thought on “A stranger’s kindness led to our community’s help”

  1. I know I shouldn’t be amazed – yet I am. This is Habitat – making homes and said repairs possible.

    God bless you all!

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