Home makeover surprises family dealing with cancer
Westchester Rotarians redo the landscaping. More than 100 Rotarian and community volunteers participated in the project.Photo by Geoff Maleman
Upon seeing the stucco bungalow with its new coat of paint, neat lawn, and white picket fence, you might think the people who live there spend all their spare time doing yardwork and home improvement projects.
Far from it. Scott Odom, a father of three in Westchester, Calif., USA, had been fighting prostate cancer for a long time–a battle he finally lost in November. As he underwent treatment, home maintenance was about the last thing on his mind. It was all that Odom, an English professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, could do to keep up with his teaching schedule. His wife, Christine, a school nurse, was busy too. So what’s the secret behind this well-kept home? Rotarians.
In 2006, the Rotary Club of Westchester (Los Angeles) started searching for a hands-on service project and decided to paint and landscape the home of someone who could use the extra help. After meeting the Odoms, who have two daughters, ages 10 and 13, and a son, age 16, the club members realized their house needed more extensive repairs, so they requested help from other groups in the community. Between cash and in-kind donations, the club raised nearly $80,000 to furnish and renovate the home and cover the back yard with gravel for easy maintenance.
After sending the Odoms on a trip to Disneyland, Rotarians and other volunteers, including Interactors and Rotaractors, got down to work. With some professional guidance, they remodeled the kitchen, refurbished the sunroom, set up a barbecue and fire pit in the back yard, assembled a storage shed, planted flowerbeds, and painted the girls’ bedroom light blue. In just four days, the job was finished. (A few weeks later, neighbors laid sod and installed a sprinkler system in the front yard.)
When the Odoms returned, more than 100 people were on hand to welcome them. “I was beyond words, I was so stunned,” Scott said. “I couldn’t believe it was our house. What they did to the living room, kitchen, and outside was just amazing. The Rotary Club of Westchester is about the nicest collection of people I’ve ever met.”
Club member Geoff Maleman says the Odoms weren’t the only ones to benefit: “Initially, we thought, ‘What a great gift we’re giving them.’ But by the end of the weekend, we realized, ‘What a great gift we’re giving us,’ working shoulder to shoulder to help a family really in need. It changed every Rotarian’s Thanksgiving dinner that year.”