Raising three children is not easy for any family, but when your middle child is afflicted with cerebral palsy, it makes life all the more difficult. Especially when your house is ill-equipped to handle the special needs of a seven-year old girl named Zoey who is confined to a wheel chair and cannot walk or talk.
Enter Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County, known for building affordable housing for families in need, lesser known for their "Brush With Kindness" projects where they renovate or rehabilitate space to make it livable for families and individuals with special needs.
Christine Incontro, Director of Special Events and Marketing for Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County, said that the volunteers working on Zoey's house are inspired whenever they see her because although she cannot talk, she "smiles with her eyes."
According to John Opitz, Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County board member and site supervisor for the 'Zoey Project,' an addition has been added to the house to provide more practical living space to accommodate Zoey and her needs. Her bedroom will now be large enough to house a hospital bed, whereas her old room could only accomodate a crib. Her room will include an entire wall of built-in cabinets to hold all the supplies her family and caretakers need--from diapers to formula--in one convenient place.
There will be a playroom/therapy room large enough for Zoey to have her siblings and friends play with her, as well as house all of her therapy equipment--walkers and standers, among other things. The kitchen is also being enlarged to allow room for Zoey's wheelchair to fit at the kitchen table so that she can be present during mealtimes with her family.
The money provided to fund this particular project has come from a number of sources. In January, Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County held a fundraiser at The Venetian in Garfield just for this project. Family, friends, donors, supporters all came forth to donate money for the 'Zoey Project.'
, a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County, was particularly generous in donating money to the 'Zoey Project,' as was in Paramus that donated $10,000, bringing the total amount of money raised for the 'Zoey Project' to approximately $70,000 to date.
However, there is still much work that needs to be done, and more funds need to be raised in order to do it. One of the items needed to complete the project is a generator to ensure that if the power goes out, Zoey's medical apparatus will still function.
Anyone interested in making a donation towards the purchase and installation of a generator can either donate through Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County's website by clicking here or by mailing a check to: Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County, 'The Zoey Project,' 690 Kinderkamack Road, Suite 300, Oradell, NJ.