Friends, family and neighbours of 93-year-old Rollie Cabana were quick to help after a stroke in February left him confined to a wheelchair. And when home builder Cory Pridy from Vancouver-based Odenza Homes heard about it, he and the company donated supplies and labour to build a ramp onto the house where Rollie has lived since 1954.
Pridy got to know the Cabanas as the project manager in charge of rebuilding a home next door to them in Dunbar last year. A fan of gardening and chatting with neighbours over the backyard fence, Rollie spent a lot of time in his backyard before the stroke and he and the crew would often talk. He even let them hook into his power supply when the house next door was without electricity.
When the crew heard about Rollie’s stroke, they decided to build and donate the ramp for him. Construction started May 26 and was completed last Saturday. “They’ve been awesome neighbours throughout the project and they’re having a hard time,” Pridy said.
“They’re putting in a ramp and I get a whole new porch, I can’t believe it,” said Rollie, a navy veteran who returned home to his wife, Fran, in mid-May after being in various hospitals since his stroke.
Though the job turned out to bigger than initially thought—rotting wood on the porch meant it had to be replaced before the ramp could be built—Pridy and his team took on the extra challenge. The Cabanas were overjoyed when they heard about the donation. Fran said she cried. Getting a government grant for such amenities can take months.
An additional complication was added May 28, two days after construction of the ramp started, when Fran suffered a mild stroke. The family became even more thankful for the donation, as medics used the ramp to get Fran to the ambulance following her stroke, and Rollie, who has not been able to walk since his stroke, used it when he left to visit his wife in the hospital.
Their daughter from Coquitlam, Joan Truscott, said Fran’s ability to walk, talk and write were unaffected by the stroke and she returned home May 31. She said neighbours have also pulled together to help out the family in the past few months. “When [Dad] came home on the weekend, they were all on high alert. As soon as I drove the can up the lane, they all immersed the van and helped get Dad out and get him into the house,” said Truscott.
Pridy and his crew of builders added the finishing touches to the ramp and new porch this past weekend, making the house accessible for both Fran and Rollie. Rollie remains optimistic and determined to walk again. “Everything else I can do by myself, but I can’t walk,” he said. “I’ve got to learn to walk.”