Hammer & Hand collaborates with ReFIT to donate an accessible bathroom.

Physically challenged client and his wife can now remain in their longtime home.  Check out the video.

Ben Chilson had lived in his Portland home since he was 4 years old, but his worsening disabilities (caused by injuries from a car accident) were making it difficult for him and his wife to stay.  Structural barriers in the home’s single bathroom were becoming tougher and tougher to overcome.

So ReFIT, the non-profit volunteer organization that provides home modification services for physically and financially challenged homeowners who wish to remain living independently in their homes, stepped in.  They asked Hammer & Hand to do a pro bono retrofit of the Chilsons’ house.

Since 1997, ReFIT volunteers have built wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, added grab bars and handrails, and remodeled for barrier-free bathrooms throughout the Portland region.  It’s an inspiring organization, so when we were approached to help, we were eager to help.

“We have a lot of respect for ReFIT Portland,” said Aaron Stevens, Hammer & Hand’s Operations Manager. “And any opportunity to align ourselves with them and their goals – we want to do that.”

So, in coordination with ReFIT, we got to work.  Aaron oversaw the project and quickly set to work recruiting a team of subcontractors to donate their services and materials to the cause.

“The thing that pleasantly surprised me was that when I sent out an email to subcontractors and vendors to ask them to join our work with ReFIT,” said Aaron, “everybody wanted to participate.”

“Aaron really knew what the clients needed to have in their home and how to rally together a pro bono team to make it happen,” said ReFIT’s Ross Arnold.  “He demonstrated, through his dedication and promotion of the project, how serious Hammer & Hand was about making a meaningful contribution to the community.  And the employees and subcontractors that worked with Aaron clearly understood.  It was nice to have that understanding.”

Lead Carpenter Daren Claymon managed the job and built it with help from John Bair.  He fully-gutted the existing bathroom, troubleshot electrical and plumbing problems, expanded the size of the bathroom room by about 25 SF, and made the space ADA compliant.

And because the Chilsons had to move out during the remodel work, time was of the essence.

“Daren went above and beyond in this project,” said Ross of ReFIT.  “He worked 8 days straight to finish the work quickly for the clients, squeezing the most out of every day and working up right to the finish line.  And when Ben Chilson walked down the hall to access the new bathroom for the first time, I could see that it really hit home for Daren.  This was the real deal.  He emotionally understood the magnitude of his contribution to the clients’ lives.”

It was an honor for us to be part of this effort and to collaborate with ReFIT.

– Zack

P.S. We’d like to thank all the folks that helped make this project happen:

DEBS Construction
Chown Hardware
Parr Lumber
Petra Heating
D&F Plumbing
Keystone Tile
Debbie Anderson, CFM
John Lobo Painting
Bear Electric
Westside Drywall

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