HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was a big reveal Tuesday for a disabled Long Island mother whose house was in dire need of repair.
CBS2’s Christina Fan has more on the transformation.
There were cries of pure joy inside the Hempstead home as Claire Helfenbein saw her renovated house for the very first time.
She sobbed as she received a room-by-room tour from the volunteers who made it happen.
“I just felt so loved. I felt like a big, cozy blanket was hugging me when I saw all these wonderful people that are here, clapping and telling me welcome home, we love you and we did this for you. There are no words,” Helfenbein said.
When the disabled widow, whose son is autistic, reached out to nonprofit Rescuing Families in 2019, she was desperate. For 22 years, the family lived inside the non-wheelchair accessible house that was falling apart at the seams.
“This entire room back here had to be ripped, almost ripped down and rebuilt because it was just a wreck. That was a big challenge. Her furnace went, the electrical was a huge fire hazard,” said Gina Centauro, co-founder of Rescuing Families.
Founders Gina and Vincent Centauro said Helfenbein’s story spoke to them as they both came from families with major disabilities.
They outfitted her home with pull-out cabinets, a walk-in shower, and a deck that finally gave her access to the front of the house.
“It was always close to our hearts to help people that were just like our families struggling,” Vincent Centauro said.
The project suffered multiple costly setbacks, including the theft of thousands of dollars of power tools, but volunteers found a way to cover the $120,000 renovation.
“They are not just an organization; they are a family that’s filled with love,” Helfenbein said.
They are a family she hopes to join on their next project, so she can help others feel the same joy.
Click here for more information about Rescuing Families.
CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.