CAPS Makes Home Accessible for Paralyzed Soldier
In June 2003, Jay Briseno, Jr., a U.S. Army Reservist stationed in Baghdad, was shot in the neck and paralyzed.
NAHB Remodelors™ Council Chairman Vince Butler, CGR, CAPS, GMB, helped Rebuilding Together make the necessary modifications to the home of U.S. Army Reservist Jay Briseno, Jr., who was wounded and paralyzed in Iraq.
Today, the 22-year-old lives in Manassas Park, Va. and relies on a ventilator, his parents’ care, and — since April — free accessibility modifications provided by Rebuilding Together — a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that rehabilitates the homes of low-income households — and NAHB Remodelors™ Council Chairman Vince Butler, CGR, CAPS, GMB and president of Butler Brothers Corporation in Clifton, Va.
Butler first learned of Briseno, his family and their plight through the Rebuilding Together program “Serving Those Who Serve,” which provides cost-free home modifications to severely injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Briseno’s father, Joseph, quit work after his son was wounded so he and his wife, Eva, could care for him. Joseph recently had to go back to work to help pay for his son’s medical expenses, but the family could not afford the modifications needed for their home to provide Jay with a safer, more accessible environment.
“We had heard about the family in Manassas Park,” says Patricia Johnson, president and CEO of Rebuilding Together. “When they contacted us, we knew we would be able to provide modifications that could help.”
Volunteers Ready and Willing
Rebuilding Together organized a team of 40 volunteers, including Butler, to remodel the home. The organization also provided the funding to pay for skilled labor and some of the materials. Most of the time and materials, however, were donated.
“All of the suppliers and subs were 100% ‘what can we do?’” said Butler. “They didn’t look for compensation and just assumed this was something we were going to do. [Rebuilding Together] had a budget and was expecting to pay, and nobody wanted to be paid.”
Bringing Critical Expertise to the Effort
Butler brought his CAPS training to the project to help provide accessibility modifications that included a curbless shower, widened bathroom doorway, gas-powered generator with double electrical circuits for emergency power and a screened-in porch so the family can enjoy spending time safely outside.
Butler met with the local Rebuilding Together coordinator a week before the work began to evaluate the family’s needs and provide some upfront planning. After that, he and his company spent three days onsite helping with the modifications.
“In one way, the job took less effort than a typical job,” said Butler. “I’ve never had so much cooperation. Everyone was falling over themselves to help. There were some red eyes. People were feeling pretty good about it and they saw how much it meant to the family."
A ‘Thank You’ Like No Other
“No other job that we’ve done has been as rewarding, particularly because we were able to bring something else to the job nobody else could do,” Butler added.
“Our son, Jay, has not taken a bath in three years,” said Joseph Briseno during a press conference earlier this year when the modifications were nearing completion. “In a few days we will be able to take Jay into the shower and bathe him.”
“With a normal job people say, ‘Thanks,’ but that doesn’t compare to a job like this,” Butler said, while adding that others in the industry should participate in similar programs as often as they can. “I would tell anyone to move on it. Don’t hesitate.”
How to Help
Rebuilding Together hopes to complete one project a month across the country as part of its “Serving Those Who Serve Program.” For more information, or to participate, visit www.servingthosewhoserve.org or call 202-483-908.
Rebuilding Together is also seeking skilled labor to volunteer to help rebuild the Gulf Coast. The nonprofit organizes week-long rebuilding trips and provides lodging, transportation to and from the job site, and three meals a day to volunteers during the work week. Volunteers must arrange their own transportation to the Gulf Coast. To learn more, click here. To volunteer, click here, or call 877-294-3572.
Through June, Rebuilding Together has repaired or rebuilt more than 100 homes in the Gulf Coast damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.