A Very Special Relationship


Published on: March 15, 2011

They can hardly speak about each other without taking long pauses and choking back tears. After all, it's heartfelt emotions that have defined the relationship between Angie Poulin's family and CountryWide Homes.

CountryWide Homes did not build Angie's house, however company officials Romeo and Angelo DeGasperis, as well as Carlo Tozzi stepped in to offer the young woman's family some help after being made aware of the Poulin's plight.

Darrin Husack, a manager for CONDRAIN GROUP, asked Romeo DeGasperis if it would be possible to make some retrofit accessibility adjustments for a family. DeGasperis assigned Carlo Tozzi of CountyWide Homes the task of improving Angie's quality of life.

Angie, 21, has been diagnosed with a rare form of Progressive Myoclonic Epilepsy. The young woman, who was once a star figure skater and honour roll student, is now confined to a wheelchair and struggles severely with her motor skills.

The disease struck Angie in her late teens, explained Angie's mom Val. "Our biggest challenge was helping Angie around the house, which was not built to be accessible for people with physical disabilities.

"We used to go out, play hockey and everything and now we don't do anything. We just struggle to survive," says Val. "CountryWide asked to meet us and when they met us, they saw what we were going through. They never turned back."

Carlo not only devised a plan with various trades to complete the renovations for wheelchair use within the house, but they wanted to take their renovation a step further by installing an elevator in the home.

Doorframes were widened to accommodate a wheelchair, and the entire home was repainted. They retrofitted the main bathroom to accommodate Angie's needs. Two bedrooms were combined to provide adequate space for mobility and to accommodate an exterior access to the chairlift. And from Angie's room they created direct access to the exterior of the home via chair lift/elevator.

"CountryWide gave Angie back her dignity. She can go to the bathroom alone now, get dressed alone and she can get out in a fire," says Val, while fighting back tears. "But more than that, it was the friendship they offered. Those workers made Angie laugh everyday and never made her feel bad."

CountryWide held a dinner fundraiser in Angie's honour. The community raised enough money not only for an elevator, but also for an extra surprise. Days before Christmas, Carlo, Darrin and some of the tradesmen who had donated their time visiteed Angie with a special present — a cheque for more than $13,000. The money is being invested to help the family with Angie's future care.

"I thought they were going to bring her a box of chocolates or something," says Val. "When you feel so alone in the health care world, and then you feel this love from these people — these people are our friends for life."

"Their daughter is an angel, that's all I have to say," says Carlo. "There's so much I can say but it's really emotional for me too. I have a daughter the same age — we all have kids. The Poulins are lovely, lovely people and I would still do anything for them."

Featured in Homes Magazine, March 2011