By Salpi Doering:
The Buffalo Rebuilding Together Project began renovations on July 19th, 2010 to give 13 year old Justin Zirpola the ability to go outside after six years. Dozens of volunteers with collaborating partners AmeriCorps, Bona Response Group, Cricket Communications Inc., Essential Care for Children, Hospice Essential Care, Make a Wish Foundation and WNY AmeriCorps have been gutting out a Milton Street house to turn it into a handicap equipped home for Justin and his father Sal Zirpola.
Justin, confined to a hospital bed, was born with Downs Syndrome, has spinal stenosis and is afflicted with episodes of seizures so severe doctors are not sure how long he will live. His father, Sal won the Milton Street house two years ago in an auction with the intent to modify it according to his son’s specific needs, Justin needed fresh air and sunlight.
Given the notion that only 50% of the house would require modifications, Sal embarked on this project with the aid of Make a Wish Foundation about two years ago. However, it turned out that the entire home needed to be renovated. To make matters worst, Justin’s mother died seven months ago. The task of renovating, for this family, experienced with so much hardship in life already, became too daunting and their plans were stifled.
Last month, extraordinary volunteer efforts began to continue the project for the Zirpolas. Demolition, yard clean up, drywall work, painting, kitchen cabinet restoration and electrical work has gotten underway. Devoted volunteers have committed their hard work and skills to restore the home and convert the main floor dining room into Justin’s bedroom that will have sliding doors leading to a deck outside.
“Sal Zirpola is overwhelmed with emotion.” says Edward Kosmoski, District Director of Cricket Communications, “In the coming weeks we will be able to make a dream come true for a father and his son”.
The completed, newly remodeled home for Justin and Sal is planned to be unveiled later this month. However, further assistance such as skilled carpentry and electrical work is still needed. If you are able to volunteer your skilled labor, participate in the Buffalo Rebuilding Together Project in making the Zirpolas’ dream come true.
Join the efforts of a remarkable group of people by contacting Edward of Cricket Communications at 716-444-0099, Matt from WNY AmeriCorps at 716-713-4540 or you can contact your local AmeriCorps members.
Photos provided by Edward Kosmoski