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Family watches as dream is built

Amid the buzz of saws and pounding of hammers, a new local nonprofit arose from the sawdust in Glenwood Springs on Saturday.By dinnertime, a local familys condo had been retrofitted for a youngster who must use a wheelchair and the foundation for Rebuilding Together had been laid.For volunteers launching a local affiliate of the nationwide program, Saturdays whirlwind construction project was only the beginning.For the Martinez family, including 8-year-old Emilio, the crew of power-tool-toting strangers who tore apart their bathroom and put it back together again were the answer to a prayer.While his Spanish-speaking parents watched with a measure of disbelief as their modest home was transformed into a construction zone, exuberant Emilio and his younger sister, Yuilza, eagerly posed for photographs and tracked the crews progress with wide-eyed excitement.Emilio, afflicted with the crippling birth defect spina bifida, maneuvered deftly in his wheelchair, zipping across the parking lot outside his home and playfully sparing with his sister.With a wide grin and warm brown eyes, Emilio appears oblivious to the chair until his environs toss up an insurmountable roadblock namely the flight of outside stairs up to the Martinezes second-floor condo and the homes narrow bathroom doorway.I cannot believe it, he said, peering into the bathroom halfway through its transformation. A dividing wall between the bathroom entry and an adjacent closet was gone; a new, wider doorway was being framed.Part two of the project, which hinges on a fund-raising effort, will bring installation of an outdoor lift so that Emilio can ride up and down between the balcony outside the familys front door and the parking lot below.The small condo on the second floor was all the family could afford, said Julio, who works as a dishwasher in Aspen.Emilio was diagnosed with spina bifida before he was born, but his parents chose not to terminate Marias pregnancy.Julio braced for the day he would have to find a new home for the family in the valleys high-priced housing market. Now, they can stay put.Spearheading Saturdays project was a group of participants in Leadership Roaring Fork, some of whom are committed to forming a local affiliate of Rebuilding Together that will take on similar efforts on an annual basis.Projects are traditionally done on the last weekend in April around the country. Some of the affiliates will do upward of 150 projects during that weekend, said Paul Bonin, a project manager with Shaw Construction and Leadership Roaring Fork class member.Rebuilding Together pairs skilled tradesmen with volunteers. Saturdays project combined the labor of Roaring Fork Leadership class members with a drywall team donated by Elite Drywallers and carpenter Dave Savage, provided by A&E Construction. Virtually everyone who was asked to contribute stepped up, according to Steve Carter and Christie Leonard, in charge of procurement. Riegles Mechanical, of Grand Junction, RMS Concrete, The Elevator Co. and BMC West have donated or pledged to donate their services and materials. Wells Fargo, Paradise Bakery and City Market all stepped up as well (the crew needed sustenance) and Alpine Bank has indicated it will help fund the lift, Leonard said. Shaw Construction is donating $1,000, according to Bonin.The Aspen Times and Glenwood Springs Post Independent are offering $1,000 in matching funds for the lift during the month of May. Anyone who wishes to make a contribution should endorse a check to Roaring Fork Leadership and designate Rebuilding Together on the memo line. The fund-raising target is $7,500.


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