Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Volunteers make over condemned home of a Minneapolis family for teen with CP


MINNEAPOLIS -- A year after buying a house, a Twin Cities family with a special needs teen hopes to finally be able to move in next week.

The generosity of others has helped overcome the home's early pitfalls.

A random assortment of about 100 volunteers, led by one contractor, have been performing one miracle of a home makeover in Minneapolis for Shomsho Abdi and her 16-year-old son Sulebaan Mohamed who has cerebral palsy. They've done it all with no big sponsors and no television network behind them.

Desperate to get Mohamed out of a moldy apartment, Abdi's family bought a condemned home on 31st and Clinton Avenue South last fall, not fully understanding what condemned meant.

Abdi said, "When we found out I was so upset."

She said the realtor who was showing her homes also represented the man selling the home.

She said that realtor recommended a contractor to fix up the home. But $50,000 later, all Abdi said she got was siding, bad windows and unfinished promises.

So when James Brown of Brownsmith Restoration read Abdi's story in the Star Tribune this spring, he offered to fix her home for free. He has bought, renovated and sold condemned homes before.

He said, "I just felt compassion for Shomsho. It's just a really bad story. It's something I do at work all the time anyway so I felt like I probably knew enough people that I could twist their arm and get them to help me."

Since then windows have been replaced, the once gutted second floor has been finished, and there are new cabinets, countertops and lighting. Hennepin County paid to have a lift installed in Mohamed's bedroom and a ramp put on the back of the house.

Volunteer James Peck of White Bear Lake was laying tiles on Saturday and said, "I was told if you have extra of anything give it away."

Volunteer Scott Schrader of Moundsview said he thought it was important to, "Help someone who was hurt by someone who didn't give a rip."

But there's still some work to do before the home is inspected in a week. So Brown is asking for more volunteers.

Vonnie Zachman Fiedler answered that call and helped paint on Saturday. She said, "I read it in the newspaper earlier this week and I didn't have anything to do today."

After what Abdi has been through, she said it is good to see so many people with generous hearts.

She said, "I have a lot of emotion before. But now I was happy. I was happy because every day I see new faces and new people."

And she can't wait to move her son into his newly made-over home. She said she thinks he'll like it a lot.

When asked for a rough estimate of how much work has gone into the home, Brown said it would be about $30,000 in labor and materials.

Brown is still looking for someone to donate a stacked washer and dryer and a dishwasher.