He's been 'smilier'... happy.
And now, he has moved back in to his new home! He moved in in the second weekend of December.
Over the last four years, Dexter has broken my heart... and then, he put it back together, in a slightly different way. Four months of weekend NICU visits, surgeries, resuscitations, brain damage, a vision impairment, being non-verbal, quadriplegic cerebral palsy, cancer, vomit, more surgeries, leg braces, gut wrenching lows and heart-warming highs... It changes a person!
Dexter's taught me to be strong and patient. He's taught me to have a Plan B (and C... and D). He's taught me the value of perseverance and determination.
When I heard of the changes that needed to be made to his house, I knew his parents would never be able to get them for him.
I felt their disappointment and their frustration.
I knew they thought they were letting Dexter down, by not being able to provide him with what he needed. Life with disabilities is so hard, and it never lets up.
The house they were living in was becoming a bit of a 'cage', with everyone stuck in one small section. Other parts of the house were never used and were being wasted; they were inaccessible for Dexter.
Huge changes needed to be made, just to allow Dexter access to his own home.
And so, the Doing it for Dexter renovations idea started. I knew there had to be a way to get Dexter's house renovated, without Lenice and Andrew having to wait a decade, until they saved enough money.
And so... I started looking for help.
It started with letters to major house building companies. That was in January 2014. One of the companies was almost interested, but we never quite got there.
I contacted the media and the TV channels featuring home renovation shows. Nothing.
And so, after six months of dead ends and no luck, I went to facebook.
In August 2014, I went to Dexter's community and asked them for help.
In September 2015, after countless emails, phone calls, texts and meetings... Dexter's renovations started! Dexter's house was being renovated.
It was being done with love and Mates's Rates.
We'd hoped to extend the main room out in to the courtyard.
We dared dream we could do even more.
Under the leadership of Rob Starcic and Lorenzo Nizza and with the support of Melissa, renovations started.
We don't know how many skip bins we used, or how much rubble and rubbish was carted away. Thank you! Demolition took a while, as the house was stripped back to it's bare bones.
Rooms were added, walls were repositioned, doors were changed and widened. New windows, wiring and plumbing went in.
Security alarms were fitted and the steps removed. The lower section of the house was lifted, to create one level. That was a great day!
That was a day that made the house wheelchair friendly!
The new roof went on and the floors went down.
Plaster went up, insulation went in and paint went on.
Concrete was poured, a deck was build and cupboards were fitted.
The kitchen was installed and the bathrooms were built and fitted out.
For a while, I was on the phone, meeting new Tradie Mates and telling the Dexter story, every day. I was emailing information and constantly updating a growing list of generous supporters and businesses.
Almost every day, photos were shared and businesses were publicly thanked. Blog posts were written. (This was our way of giving something back.)
Lenice and Andrew put extra money on their mortgage, to cover the bills and costs of materials. Almost all of our incredible tradies offered free labour.
That generosity saved an incredible amount of money.
We can never say thank you enough.
Almost all of our tradies sourced free or discounted materials, which saved even more money.
Without you, this dream would never have become a reality.
There were many afternoons we would walk in to the house, and smile at what had happened in the day. We are so grateful for the tradesmen who came by as soon as the house was ready for them. We are grateful for the way our Tradie Mates fitted in, working around each other and supporting each other.
We were at the house every weekend, working and getting as much done as we could. Lenice made a few dozen batches of chocolate chip biscuits and countless lunches. We have met some really incredible people. Thank you.
Dexter's first sister has learned many tradie mate's names and speaks about everyone building her new house. Dexter has been happy and smiling since the renovations started. (He has had two hospital visits in the last four months, but apart from them... he has been very happy!) He has loved the machinery and the action. He loves the new house... he is close to the action, regardless of where it is. He is involved. He is included. And that... that is what we wanted. Thank you.
We haven't done the landscaping.
The drive way, fence and front ramp are not yet finished, but Dexter is home.
We'll be able to work on the rest over time.
The house is beautiful and many, many beautiful memories will be created in it.
Thank you, everyone!!
**We're sending details about the Thank you party to our tradie mates.
We'll also come up with a way of showing the renovations in a photo video.
We will have more photos to share with you. We will share some ways Dexter can really be involved in family activites, now he is in his new home. We will share updates as more work is done on the outside.
Thank you! Carol
- celebrated a first birthday
- celebrated a 35th birthday
- celebrated a wedding anniversary
- had two hospital visits and several doctor visits
- had overseas guests stay for a few days
- had visitors from the north coast stay for a couple of weeks
- had Relay for Life and Convoy
- had two Camp Quality events
- went to the KidzWish Christmas party
- weaned the youngest off breast milk
- saw the youngest cut her first teeth
- toilet trained the middle one
- saw the first steps taken by the youngest
- got funding approved for a wheelchair
- had positive news from a surgical review
- got a new cerebral palsy diagnosis
- got a positive oncology review
- went camping for the first time
Message us through the Doing it for Dexter facebook page
Click here to see who gave support
What a Dollar means to Dexter
When Wheelchair Stops Being a Dirty Word
The Original Idea
Dexter's Fun Plans
Coastal Windows and Doors
Smith and Sons Shellharbour
Dexter's First Month
Dexter's Cerebral Palsy
Who is Dexter?
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