MARYLAND HOME MAKEOVER™
The Barry family, residing in the Four Seasons development near Gambrills in the western part of Anne Arundel County, has been selected as the second recipient of the MARYLAND HOME MAKEOVER™.
Michael Barry served as a career soldier in the U.S. Army for 23 years, retiring in 2000. Although he was transferred to many different locations in his career, the family stayed together and developed a special closeness as a result. He has recently been deployed to Iraq as a military contractor, this time, without his family.
Michael and his wife, Kathleen, have 4 children; two still at home – Daniel, 22, and Ryan, 15.
In 1996, while the family was stationed at Fort Drum, NY, Daniel, then 8 years old, suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a diabetic stroke and subsequent coma. His parents had no warning or prior knowledge that he had juvenile diabetes. When he awoke from the coma, the doctors agreed that he would be severely disabled.
Danny had suffered a brain stem injury, so even though his brain was functioning, messages were not being adequately transmitted to his body. He was left with slurred speech, left side paralysis, cognitive disabilities and unsteady gait, as well as a myriad of emotional disabilities. After 322 days in the hospital, Danny finally came home, unable to sit or walk without support and had difficulty swallowing. The family did not have any adaptive equipment, so Michael and Kathleen would carry him and help with his entire care. After a year, Mr. Barry was transferred to Ft. Meade and the family moved to Maryland.
The new community and local school offered some supportive services, but fortunately, the school was able to recommend the Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Baltimore where Danny made steady progress. Danny completed the Kennedy Kreiger program in June 2009 and now participates in the Vocational Training program with Opportunity Builders Inc., a nonprofit organization offering employment training and social activities for adults with various disabilities, headquartered in Millersville.
Danny has difficulty navigating steps, requiring assistance to alleviate falls; he cannot get up from a low sitting position without assistance; cannot step over items on the floor; has a visual blind spot which keeps him from seeing anything in front of him at coffee table level. At 22, it is more apparent how challenging Danny’s life will be and how important it will be to his independence to provide him a safe, adaptive environment in the home.
As a result of the current economic crisis, Mr. Barry became unemployed in March, 2009; and, although Mrs. Barry provides child care for several families, all the income and little savings went directly to medical bills, mortgage and household bills. There have been no funds for home repairs or modifications.
The home owned by the Barry family is a split-foyer. There is a garage and garage entrance into the lower level, which includes a bedroom, half-bath and family room set up for Danny. The major barrier is the bathroom. There is one full bath on the upper level, equipped with only a combination tub/shower. Danny has to be carried or assisted upstairs as needed. Without handicapped bars, he cannot get in or out of the tub on his own or clean the right side of his body. Mr. Barry and his younger brother, Ryan, have always done this for him.
The preliminary plans include converting the half-bath and laundry room into a combination, fully-accessible bathroom and new laundry area. The entire downstairs footprint will be renovated to provide a new handicapped entrance in place of the garage door, expanded living and sleeping space for Danny, closets and a family gathering area for informal meals, relaxing or crafts.
In the community, the Barry family has been actively involved with the Special Olympics program. Kathleen is a swim team coach for youth at Fort Meade and Danny has joyfully helped with fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network and in media promotions for Kennedy Kreiger.
The Barry family is extremely proud of what they have accomplished together, without assistance. Now, this family’s dreams for Danny will be fulfilled through the commitment, appreciation and generosity of local REALTORS®, friends, local schools and the community, partnering with Partnership for Housing Foundation on this MARYLAND HOME MAKEOVER™.