Oakwood homecare nurse and community members make-over home for patient

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Oakwood Homecare patient, Derinda Roberts comes home to a renovated and accessible home. Derinda Roberts watches in the mirror as Stephanie Kearney, RN, BSN, Oakwood Homecare, backs her wheelchair into the no threshold shower.

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Oakwood Homecare patient, Derinda Roberts comes home to a renovated and accessible home. Derinda Roberts in her newly decorated and furnished living room. L to R: Stephanie Kearney, RN, BSN, Oakwood Homecare,Derinda Roberts (homeowner), Jennifer Mink, of Brownstown.

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Oakwood Homecare patient, Derinda Roberts comes home to a renovated and accessible home. Derinda Roberts in her newly decorated and furnished living room. L to R: William Brian Roberts, (son), Collin Kearney, 14 years old, of Grosse Ile, Robert Verdun of Grosse Ile, Stephanie Kearney, RN,BSN, Oakwood Homecare, Derinda Roberts (homeowner), Dianna Moore, Young andSons Construction, (background), Jennifer Mink, of Brownstown, Brandy Ochab, of Grosse Ile.

DEARBORN – An Oakwood Healthcare System employee’s act of kindness sparked a movement by a group of local volunteers to provide a Lathrup Village patient with an early Christmas present – a home makeover.

Friends of Stephanie Kearney, Oakwood Homecare nurse, came together to support Derinda Roberts, and her family, by remodeling her home to be more wheelchair friendly.

For the last 20 years, Roberts has been confined to a wheelchair as a result of paraplegia. She takes care of her developmentally disabled brother and supports her college-aged son, both of whom live with her. Kearney visits Roberts about three times a week to help with the daily tasks many take for granted.

“My heart is so overwhelmed by the love and compassion that people have poured upon my family at this time of the year,” Roberts said.

The inspiration for the home makeover came about when Kearney’s friend, Brandy Ochab witnessed Kearney and her husband push a quadriplegic man through a half marathon last year. She asked Kearney if she knew somebody who needed help and was told about Roberts. When Ochab began helping out, it became evident that the house was not geared for a disabled person and caused many problems for Roberts.

“I just said we’re going to do something. So, we did,” Ochab said. “I pulled the people, my friends and family, and it’s just spiraled from me to probably 50 other people.”

In addition to Oakwood, the project escalated into a partnership of more than 50 people and 12 local companies donating their time, labor and money. Ochab’s husband and sister-in-law, Jennifer Mink, participated in the project and invited their friend Robert Verdun, founder of the Entrepreneurs Organization, who in turn contacted Diana Moore, owner of Young & Sons Construction.

“We told her we wanted to put in a new bathroom and paint the house,” Ochab said. “So we put her up in a hotel room for two weeks and surprised her with a complete home makeover.”

They put in a new handicapped-accessible bathroom, restructured the kitchen to incorporate a lower sink and counter, updated the electrical wiring, refinished the floors, painted rooms throughout the home and added window treatments.

“I saw this person who had an overwhelming need and I couldn’t do it by myself,” Kearney said. “You can enable a person or you can help them to become independent – but it takes a community.”

For more information, go to www.oakwood.org.

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