‘McCarthy heroes’ come to Seligman family’s rescue
Home health aide goes extra mile for disabled family of six
When the porch of their home collapsed, a Seligman family with six disabled members, two in wheelchairs, had their world collapse, too.
But, their home health aide, Sherrel Carlson, her family and McCarthy Construction heard about the family’s plight and came to the rescue.
According to Carlson, who has been providing care for the family since October through Helpful Hands, a home health care company, the family was having great hardship getting in and out of their home between challenges with disabilities and a dilapidated porch unfit for wheelchairs, before it finally collapsed.
“It was becoming impossible to get them in and out of there,” Carlson said. “The mother and all of her [adult] children are disabled and live in the same home. Only when the mother had a medical appointment would she attempt to leave. When I heard about their situation, I cried like a baby and thought, ‘That’s way too much hardship for one family.’”
The mother, Dorothy, a 73-year old widow who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from several health conditions, said she would be in tears trying to climb the five stairs on the porch. So, she stopped leaving unless she absolutely had to for a medical appointment.
Carlson, who lives near Shell Knob, drives 35 minutes to the family’s home in Seligman, wanted to help the family, but doesn’t get reimbursed for travel time or mileage.
“The company can’t get another caregiver because there’s so much travel time in between patients in this area,” she said.
But due to their combined disabilities, Carlson made the trip anyway to help the family, which was approved to receive six hours of care per day, five days per week.
She asked her husband to look at the porch, but it needed more than a quick fix.
“While he was working to make some [temporary] repairs, our son, Clint Carlson called,” she said. “[He] is building a new Mercy addition in Rogers, Ark., with McCarthy Construction.”
After hearing about the situation, Carlson went into work early to draw up blueprints for a new, wheelchair-accessible porch. His boss, Project Coordinator Tate Jacobitz, took an interest and, before long, several company volunteers were rounded up, and the family had a brand new porch, ramp and landing — paid in full by McCarthy Construction.
“We have a program called Heart Hats where we try to do volunteer work in communities we’re building,” said Clint Carlson, project superintendent for McCarthy. “It was close enough to Rogers, plus, we’ll go anywhere. We have no boundaries. It was a pleasure to do it.”
“As a company, we try to give back to the community,” Jacobitz said. “The project fit the bill, and we want to instill that company culture of giving back to the communities we live and work in.”
Mercy Hospital also got involved.
“As an organization, they’re all about serving their community and meeting health care needs,” Jacobitz said. “Their management group was a part of the project. The team, led by Clint, did the work. I’m really proud of them, and honored to work with this great group of people that care and are willing to make a difference.”
The family was overjoyed.
“They cried,” Sherrel said. “It’s all they’ve talked about. Dorothy is tickled pink, and her daughter, Sherry, in a wheelchair, was the first one who tried it and said, ‘It works! it works!’”
“It’s been a lifesaver to me, because I hardly get out because it hurts me so bad and I’m short of breath,” Dorothy said. “It means so much to me. I’m just so grateful for it, and the people who did it. They worked hard, and they built it good and strong. We’ve needed a lot of things, but that porch was a God-sent thing.”
The ramp also allowed Dorothy to make it to their vehicle without having to walk.
Tosha White, Springfield Staff Coordinator for Helpful Hands, who made a special trip from St. Louis to set the family up for services, said their living situation moved her heart.
“The house was [already] in bad shape, then the porch collapsed, so we went to work to get something done,” she said. “We thought it would take weeks or months to collect enough donations, but, luckily, MCarthy stepped in.”
White said help is hard to come by in Barry County because of the distance between clients, and workers are not reimbursed for mileage and travel time. So they let Sherrel, who was literally willing to go the extra mile, know how much they appreciated her by giving her a raise.
“She’s one of our best aides,” White said. “She has a heart of gold. She’s our only aide in Seligman, and she services every last one of our clients down there.”
Those involved in the construction have been billed the “McCarthy heroes,” but if Carlson had not been willing to make the drive, or told others about the family’s circumstances, nothing would have changed. Even still, she gives others the praise.
“McCarthy deserves an enormous pat on the back for all they did,” she said. “It was just incredible. There’s enough tragedy in the world, but not enough beautiful things. This story has touched more people than you can possibly imagine.”
The family has, sadly, had a few other hardships to contend with, too, as shortly after the porch was completed, their wheelchair-accessible van was hit and totaled, leaving them with no transportation whatsoever. And, their home is in need of a new door, which is letting cold air in, and new windows, some of which are covered with tin to keep out the cold.
After basic expenses like groceries are paid, there’s not much left for anything else, Dorothy said.
“It’s been really hard on us to get money for the house,” she said.
“It’s really tragic how much this family has gone through,” Sherrel said.
Anyone who would like to help the family with housing supplies or transportation may call Sherrel Carlson for more information at 970-712-8414.