Foundations unite for Extreme Makeover Home Edition – Portuguese Style
NEW BEDFORD — You could say it’s the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Portuguese style.
Three local foundations run by Portuguese families with ties to construction firms have teamed up to build an addition for a Wareham family home and help accommodate the pressing needs of a child with special needs.
Victor Fernandes of Team Noah Foundation, Nelson Cardoso of Cameron’s Kids and Alan Alves of the Trevor and Jordan Alves Foundation are now seeking the help of other local skilled and unskilled volunteers to assist them in the project by donating labor or materials.
“It’s really a moving story,” said Fernandes. “It’s for a 62-year-old grandmother who is taking care of her two grandchildren. The 11-year-old, who weighs 96 pounds, is confined to a wheelchair and the house is not handicap accessible and very small. She needs to pick him up and carry him several times a day. It’s a burden, not to mention that she has health issues of her own and needs to be operated on her arm.”
Fernandes, a co-proprietor of Fernandes Mansonry, Inc. of New Bedford, first learned about the plight of this family through a nurse connected with the Schwartz Center for Children. She was helping his family tending to the needs of his son Noah, who suffers from M.E.L.A.S., a progressive and degenerative mitochrondrial disease.
“Having myself a child with special needs, I know how hard it can be having to carry a child… My heart went out to her,” said Fernandes, whose family recently established the Team Noah Foundation to help families with children impacted by medical and developmental disabilities.
Inspired by the participation of his own company in the American reality TV series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition a few years ago, Fernandes said he wanted to do something similar for this family. Consequently, he reached out to Cardoso and Alves, two local businessmen who have also contributed to numerous noble causes related to youth or disabilities.
Cardoso, the proprietor of Cardoso Construction and Cardoso Concrete of Acushnet, has worked diligently to raise funds along with the Goulart family of Acushnet for Cameron’s Kids. The group was founded in honor of his grandson, who recently passed away from complications of cerebral palsy, to help children with disabilities.
Alves, the co-proprietor of Lighthouse Mansonry Inc. of New Bedford, recently helped establish the TJA Foundation in honor of his son Trevor, who died in 2010 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, and his nephew Jordan, who passed away last September after being involved in a car crash.
“We started the foundation to help families who lose loved ones. In the past, we’ve helped families who lost the head of their households and have also given scholarships at Dartmouth High School. We’re also trying to get tougher laws passed on texting while driving,” Alves said.
Although the plight of the Wareham family does not appear to be a perfect fit for the mission of his foundation, Alves found it to be such a compelling story that he decided to get on board and contribute with his company’s construction skills and labor.
“This family needs a decent place to live in, and these three foundations, unfortunately, they have a lot in common,” he said. “This is a bright thing and something good will be coming out of it. We did not get involved for publicity; we just got involved to help out in whatever we can.”
According to Fernandes, the planned addition will measure 25 by 30 feet and will cost about $120,000. It will include a basement for storage, a handicap accessible bathroom and kitchen and a bedroom for the child.
“Right now, the house they live in is so small that the family does not even have space to hook up a washer and dryer and the grandmother has to go to the laundromat,” he said.
Although the project is still in its initial stage, various volunteers have already stepped-up to the plate, according to Fernandes. But much more is needed.
“We still need some labor and materials, such as floor and roof trusses, shingles, granite, kitchen equipment… any donations will be much appreciated,” Fernandes said. “It would also be nice if someone could donate a vacation so that we could send the family away for one week and get all the work done during that period.”
The ultimate goal, according to Fernandes, would be for community businessmen and volunteers to come together and collaborate in other projects to help less fortunate families or individuals with pressing needs.
“I would love to do something like that,” he said. “In this case, these are three extreme foundations, working for an extreme cause.”
Anyone interested in donating labor or materials, please contact Victor Fernandes at 508-889-2935.