One knock is all it took.
When Coronado Park resident Wendy Aucoin knocked on her neighbor’s door to check on her, she had no idea what was about to be set in motion.
“My only regret is that we did not reach out sooner,” Aucoin said. “When two neighbors and I decided to offer to help finish painting their home, we learned that this family’s needs go far beyond outside repairs.”
After the owner of the home died two years ago, her 70-year-old daughter and 44-year-old granddaughter remained in the home.
The daughter, after successfully battling two different cancers, is now battling a third type of cancer. The granddaughter, who is recovering from her own recent surgery, has continued to take care of her ill mother in addition a niece and nephew whom she has raised since they were babies.
“All three generations have always believed in feeding anyone who is hungry and using what you have to help others,” Aucoin said. “They have cooked numerous meals for their church – all around faulty appliances – original to the home. They have worked around broken items, not asking or expecting help from anyone.”
When she learned of the extent of the family’s needs, Aucoin began reaching out to other neighbors and local businesses to see if anyone else wanted to pitch in to help the family.
Neighbors Angelle White and Mike Parker were the first to join the effort. Letters distributed throughout the Coronado Park neighborhood rallied more people to get involved.
“In three days we had $800 and by one week we had $1,600,” Aucoin said. “Now at two weeks we have over $3,000. The generosity is overwhelmingly amazing, and we’ve been able to stretch every dollar.”
In addition to monetary donations, labor and material donations have poured in. Aucoin’s husband, Mike, has been instrumental in the revitalization of the home.
“We have an army of people … some people we haven’t met before and people who don’t even live near us,” Aucoin said. “Every day it something new and people want to help with something new.”
The fuel pump in the family’s vehicle has been changed, a rocker glider chair for the grandmother has been purchased, repairs to the fence and gates have taken place, all fencing and concrete has been pressure washed and a steel entry door has been installed.
Aucoin said the family now has a functioning garage door opener.
“Before, the granddaughter had to pull her car as close to the front door as possible in order to help her mother get inside and it left terrible ruts in their yard,” Aucoin said.
A particularly thoughtful donation, Aucoin said, is a wooden cross plaque with a cross that now hangs under the new front porch light. The spot is where the homeowner often sits outside to read her Bible.
Rotten facia and soffit, as well as windows and beds, have also been replaced in the home. Aucoin said the roof is next.
Other improvements include 40-year-old appliances that have been upgraded and the home air conditioning unit being repaired. New drapes now hang in windows, and roofing, window, landscape and pest control work on are being planned.
“We will almost completely transform the exterior, and this is hopefully just the beginning of what we can do for this awesome family,” Aucoin said. “We’re not stopping until we can’t go anymore.”
Painter Corey O’Baugh, who lives in the neighborhood, painted the home and cleaned and fixed all gutters and spouts.
“He has been quite handy and other neighbors are grabbing him for their future repairs,” Aucoin said. “He has gone over and beyond our ask.”
Aucoin said the family is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.
“The granddaughter told me her mom lost a little sleep and is having some anxiety because she doesn’t know what she can do for me to repay me,” Aucoin said. “I assured her that not only is this a pleasure for us to be doing this, but the whole community feels the same way.”
More improvements are being planned, including carport work and some more kitchen appliance upgrades.
There are many neighbors, businesses and surrounding communities who have offered their help at the house or given monetary donations, including Mike Dunn Roofing, Sears Homestore, Majoria’s, Hartman’s True Value, Good Guys Glass, Stell Furniture, Haydel’s Appliance, BH Cooper Landscapes, Glynn Bourgeois AC Service, Cody with Randy Graver Services, Russell Breaux, Custom Homes and DNR Pest & Termite.
“We can’t thank these people and their companies enough,” she said. “This is a labor of love from this amazing community and parish.”
Anyone wanting to donate money or time to the effort can contact Aucoin at email@example.com.