By Emily Golden
Photo: Donors and volunteers celebrate with homeowner Phyllis Puett.jpg
A Fort Myers woman in need received the heartwarming gift of home improvements just in time for the holidays.
Lee BIA Builders Care and Lennar partnered to complete a home improvement project for Phyllis Puett, an 84-year-old Fort Myers resident, all at no cost. Work was completed in just three days, and project partners and volunteers gathered with Puett on Dec. 22 to celebrate the project completion.
The enhancements will create a world of difference for Puett, who is diagnosed with orthostatic tremors. Puett has lived in her home for over 50 years, yet the entry of the home has become challenging for her to navigate. Due to her condition, which causes instability when walking, she has fallen several times going in and out of the home. Puett currently navigates using a walker, yet improved entrances were necessary for her safety as well as to accommodate future use of a wheelchair.
To provide Puett with greater safety and accessibility, project partners agreed to install concrete ramps at the entry of Puett’s home. Puett thought that the ramps would be the only project completed.
“I needed a ramp, and that was all I thought I was getting. Lord, I got much more than a ramp. It’s unbelievable,” Puett said. “I got a driveway! I’ve been wanting a driveway for 51 years, and I’ve finally got a driveway. It really makes a world of difference.”
Beyond the ramps, a new concrete driveway and sidewalk were poured to replace the uneven grass driveway. Project partners also brightened the home’s exterior with pressure washing and a fresh coat of paint, installed new landscaping, added new outdoor carpet and patio furniture on the lanai, and mounted new coach lights, a mailbox and doorbell. Inside, the home’s bathroom doorway was widened to provide Puett greater accessibility, two old toilets were replaced with new comfort height toilets, and new vertical blinds were fitted. Lennar also donated a wheelchair to Puett to provide her with greater mobility. Finishing touches included presents under the Christmas tree.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be able to come out and help someone that needs a little bit of help for their every day-to-day life. Ms. Puett just wanted a handicap ramp at her front door, and we just decided to do a little bit more like we always do,” said Ray Kershaw, vice president of construction for Lennar. “It’s great to give back to the community and see that you’re helping someone and to see someone like Mrs. Puett who really appreciates it. It really makes you feel good, especially this time of year with the holidays.”
Improvements and modifications were made possible thanks to the generous contribution of Lennar and a number of local partner suppliers and contractors. Project partners included 84 Lumber Company, GMZ Masonry, Cemex Construction Materials, Sherwin-Williams, Ferguson, Carrigan Brothers, Juniper Landscaping, Johns To Go, Wayne Wiles Floor Covering, City Furniture, Prestige Cleaning of SWFL, Southwest Waste Services, Southwest Land Development, Sod Pro and Edmonson Electric.
“What makes this project so special every year is just knowing that we are going to come in and change someone’s life. Lennar partners with us every year and they always go above and beyond and do so much more than the homeowner ever expects,” said Crystal Stouten, executive director of Lee BIA Builders Care. “Knowing that she will be able to get around her house more safely due to the work they’ve done is incredible.”
“This is the best Christmas I’ve ever had. It really cheered me up and I’m so much happier,” Puett said.
ABOUT LEE BIA BUILDERS CARE
The mission of Lee BIA Builders Care is to provide emergency construction services at no cost to needy and deserving elderly and/or disabled homeowners, and their families, who cannot obtain repairs through traditional means. Lee BIA Builders Care offers a full range of no-cost emergency construction services to improve the safety and health for needy seniors and disabled individuals of all ages by enlisting the expertise and donated services and materials of contractors, sub-contractors and businesses. To date, Lee BIA Builders Care has put more than $4.8 million in construction services back into the community at no cost to homeowners in need. Builders Care is funded through financial donations, grants and donated services and materials to provide emergency construction services to qualified homeowners throughout the community. Lee BIA Builders Care is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization under the charitable arm of the Lee Building Industry Association. Lee BIA Builders Care is headquartered at 6835 International Center Blvd. #4 in Fort Myers. Donations can be made online at www.LeeBuildersCare.org. More information is available by calling 239-938-0056, and by following Builders Care at www.Facebook.com/LeeBuildersCare.