By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
Sylvia Muñoz Rosas of San Benito was shopping in the Harlingen Home Depot for sheetrock when she decided to ask an employee for some ideas on how she could help her two disabled children enjoy their summer.
Rosas’ children—Toby Padilla, 10, and Vivian Padilla, 8—were born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). CF is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide) have CF, and approximately 1,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with the disease each year.
For Toby and Vivian, having CF severely limits the fun they can have during their summer vacation. Rosas said, “They aren’t able to go to places like McDonald’s to play because of the germs. They’re not able to be around a lot of people or sick people.”
This also prohibits Toby and Vivian from partaking in fun days playing in the park, swimming in public pools and quite a lot of typical activities other children might enjoy.
When Rosas explained her children’s needs to Home Depot, little did she know employees would take a rapid interest in obtaining further information in order to strategize a plan to help the family rectify this summer fun problem. It is a Home Depot policy to better local communities.
Harlingen store manager, Jerry Garcia, said, “Home Depot does a lot of community involvement. When we heard about this situation, this mother asking for help, we wanted to do something for her kids. We came out with volunteers, we cleaned up the yard, we added landscaping and mulch, and built a play system” among other things.
Some months back, the Rosas home caught fire and much damage was done to the house as well as the yard. Remains and debris from the fire had been piling up in the yard, which was riddled with high weeds and grass. The Home Depot team, which consisted of five core members and was led by Celena Rios, Garden Manager at the Harlingen store, conducted an extensive yard clean-up before beginning additions and renovations. “We hauled off six trailers worth of trash,” said Rios.
The clean-up and rebuilding of the Rosas yard took four days, according to Rios, who was somewhat deterred due to the heavy thunderstorms Cameron County encountered last week. The Harlingen Home Depot crew had assistance from the Brownsville Home Depot as well as members of the San Benito community, such as Guadalupe Ayala, his son and grandson.
The results were nothing short of a blessing for the Rosas family. As of Tuesday afternoon, Toby and Vivian are enjoying their newly-painted game of hopscotch, their beautifully-landscaped and manicured yard as well as their brand new play system, which was built especially for them by their new friends at the Home Depot of Harlingen.
Rosas appeared ecstatic as she watched her kids enjoying their new yard. “This is wonderful! Thank you so much for everything!” she exclaimed.
Thanks to several sweet-spirited folks, two children and one mother are going to have a much brighter summer.