Evans Family

In late 2009, NARI of Greater Chicagoland (NARIGC) was introduced to a family that none of our members will ever forget. The Evans Family.

Mark and Joan Evans are the devoted parents of four children with special needs. Bradley, Grant and Meredith are triplets. When we met them, Bradley and Grant were juniors attending Elk Grove (IL) High School. Meredith was a junior enrolled at Palatine (IL) High School. Brett, their youngest son, had just turned 11, and was in the 6th grade.

Bradley, Grant and Meredith were born three months premature, and within a year of being born, the triplets were diagnosed with varying degrees of cerebral palsy. Grant and Bradley’s CP is considered on the “mild” spectrum; however, Meredith's diagnosis is the most severe as her CP keeps her from walking and talking. Meredith does have a touch-controlled communication device that gives her a voice and enables her to join in conversations (which she doesn't shy away from!).

Brett, the youngest, was diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday. Brett did not speak for a long time; however these days he talks with great enthusiasm and is making great strides in school. Brett began therapy at 18 months old and just like his siblings he continues to receive various therapies. He enjoys singing with his school chorus, swimming and going on bike rides with his dad.

The Project
The Evans' home was built in 1960. It is a small three-bedroom ranch with narrow doorways and hallways, 2 very small bathrooms at the time, and a small kitchen area. It was impossible for Meredith to maneuver through most of the house in her wheelchair. Joan and Mark converted a sun porch into a bedroom for Meredith because it was in the most accessible area of the home. Still, Joan and Mark had to lift Meredith out of her chair into the 4'x10' bathroom in order for her to use the bathroom or bathe since the doorway was narrow and there was no room for the wheelchair inside the bathroom. This was taking a large physical toll on her parents.

The project started simply, by replacing the toilet in the 2nd bathroom which hadn't worked for years. When each family member took turns excitedly sitting on the new, finally working toilet, NARIGC knew it was in for a successful project!

The main bathroom project was planned using “Universal Design” concepts so that all members of the family could comfortably use the bathroom, regardless of their abilities.  NARIGC members donated design services, building materials and countless hours of labor to expand and completely renovate this bathroom, complete with a roll in shower so Meredith can bathe in privacy and without physically taxing her parents.

But it Doesn't End There...
Following the completion of the project, a NARIGC member who painted the bathroom and who is also a member of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, approached his local Council of PDCA and asked for their help. He wasn't satisfied with simply painting the bathroom. He wanted the entire interior of the house painted so they would feel like they had a new, bright, cheerful home. This member coordinated five painting contractors to complete the wallpaper removal, wall repair and painting of the whole house.

NARIGC was pleased to receive the 2011 Local Chapter NARI Service Project of the year for this project; however, we are most proud of the impact our organization had on their lives and the fact that, to this day, we still call them friends.