FAIRFIELD — Erika Wagoner returned home from a weekend trip Sunday to find her home nearly restored.
Volunteers from Rebuilding Together Solano County, Home Depot and Bank of the West had been working all weekend on repairs to the Hayes Street house while the 83-year-old homeowner was away for a family reunion. Wagoner arrived Sunday to a house with freshly painted walls, a tiled bathroom and new kitchen cabinets.
“Gorgeous, unbelievable,” said Wagoner, touring the home from her wheelchair.
Wagoner’s husband – a military veteran – died in November 2012. The Austrian native, who has lived in the house since 1967, was grieving under exposed electrical wires and a crumbling roof when her daughter Brigitte Bauer contacted Rebuilding Together Solano. The property had plumbing issues and was loaded with collectibles, car parts and valuables belonging to her late husband.
“This place was absolutely dangerous to live in,” said Bauer, of Vacaville.
Rebuilding Together Solano and partner Home Depot teamed up with Bank of the West for the Military Home Rehabilitation Project. The Home Depot Foundation provided a grant of $9,000, Bank of the West supplied $10,000 – for two county homes – and the Fairfield Host Lions Club donated $1,000, said Elizabeth Hoffman, executive director of Rebuilding Together. The project, which had two major work weekends in July and August, saw dozens of tasks completed.
Volunteers replaced the roofing, repaired the electrical wiring, fixed the plumbing and, most significantly, removed loads of junk.
“Debris hauling and electrical were the No. 1 health and safety things (that needed fixing),” Hoffman said.
Volunteers also erected fresh fencing, replaced a decrepit backyard trellis and worked on exterior and interior painting projects.
“We got a lot done in a short time,” said Team Depot Captain Tony Ford, who managed most of the labor.
Family members also pitched in.
“They took to heart our prep (work),” said Hoffman. And “boxed up everything.”
When Wagoner entered her freshly painted bedroom Sunday – de-cluttered and adorned with a new, firm mattress – she couldn’t hide her satisfaction.
“A first look in the mirror,” she said. “A smile on my face.”
Wagoner will have to wait at least a day before she can move in, as there is still some unfinished business in the bathroom and kitchen, including the installation of new counter tops and a sink and stove for the seasoned cook.
“Last year, Christmas, I was a nervous wreck, but I still got my baking done,” Wagoner said.
Now, she is grateful for the selflessness of so many people.
“One time, I was kind of depressed. And I thought of this Russian song. ‘God, you have so many angels, send me an angel, just to talk to,’” said Wagoner. “ . . . And he sent me dozens of them.”
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.