Wednesday, November 23, 2016

AlliedCook Construction donates their time and provides hope for a Windham couple - By Lorraine Glowczak

John and Linda Gregoire have been counting their blessings every day. The most recent godsend came in the form of a local and well known construction company, AlliedCook Construction. This company donated a week of their time, resources and efforts in October to rebuild Gregoire’s crumbling garage floor. Not only was the garage unsafe, but it had shifted so much that the Gregoires’ “new to them” van could not be driven into their garage because it sits low to the ground. It isn’t every day a large construction company remodels a garage for free, but then, it is not every day one is diagnosed with a devastating disease that robs one of independence.  
 
“When you are in God’s business, he is in yours,” Linda said, referring to the way things have been going in their life the past nine years. In October, 2007 Linda’s husband, John, was diagnosed with ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

https://www.ridgelineroofingme.com/John has not let the extreme challenges that go with slowly saying goodbye to walking and talking disempower him. Instead, he uses his experience to help and serve other people living with ALS (PALS). In 2014, he and Linda created the non-profit organization, The Hope-JG Foundation. The organization’s mission is two-fold, “To establish a world class ALS/MS residence in Maine and to inspire and promote innovative technologies.” (www.hope-jg.org) A resource room will be a part of this residence, housing a recording studio which will use the VocaliD platform to record donor voices. This technology produces custom crafted voices for the speech impaired, making communication more human. (www.vocalid.co)

John is now in a wheelchair and uses a voice activated computer to express his thoughts. He and Linda travel all over New England to meet with supporters, PALS and their families to discuss fundraising, grant writing and networking ideas. They also travel to meet with innovators - people or organizations that promote innovative technologies and thinking. Additionally, they travel to Augusta during the legislative session to advocate for issues that affect health care. This extensive travel to advocate, promote hope, and build a home that will provide a meaningful and dignified life for PALS requires a van equipped to transport John and the electric wheelchair. Unfortunately, their “new” 2010 wheel-chair accessible van could not be driven into the garage. The garage is where the lift is located and is what John uses to get in and out of his home. Parking outside the garage works well in the summer, but the pending snow and ice this winter were concerns of the Gregoire family. However, keeping thoughts positive, they decided to make the best of it. After all, money is not easily had when there are other important costs associated with the medical expenses of having ALS. This is where AlliedCook Construction came into their life.


It all began with the preparation of a fundraising event for The Hope-JG Foundation that will occur in early spring 2017. John and Linda had been communicating with Saint Joseph’s College president Jim Dlugos regarding a space provided by the school for a public viewing of the film “Hope on the Horizon.” The film is about four individuals who hike the 48 highest peaks in the White Mountains in 24 days to raise awareness and funding for ALS. During the emails back and forth about this fundraising effort, Dlugos became aware of the garage disrepair. Concerned, president Dlugos visited the Gregoires and spoke to them about having the space renovated. “You do so much for others, you also need to think about your needs and let others help you,” is what the Gregoires recalled Dlugos telling them. Soon after that conversation, Dlugos was in a meeting with Matt Cook of AlliedCook Construction discussing projects at the college. During this meeting Dlugos approached Cook, asking him if he could assess the repairs of Gregoires’ garage.

A couple days later, Cook visited John and Linda. “It was a small project that made a huge impact,” Cook stated. “There was no way I would leave without helping John and Linda.” 


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Cook was very impressed with the collaborative efforts of the other companies he reached out to and who also gave their resources for this project. These companies included Bob Grondin of R.J. Grondin, Inc., Jason Robinson of Dayton Sand & Gravel as well as Auburn Concrete. 

“It’s nice to give back to a community that supports you,” Cook continued, referring to the success of his Scarborough based 58-year-old company founded by his grandfather.   

It only took five days to restore the garage. During the re-construction, a big hollow hole underneath the cement where water had washed the ground away was discovered immediately following the removal of the floor. Needless to say, this made the garage a hazardous place to drive, walk or use a wheelchair. In fact, the lift itself was sitting on hollow ground.

John now has a safe and ice free way to get in and out of his vehicle and into his home. To celebrate
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their labor and efforts, soup was prepared on the final day by Linda and shared with the three crew members who worked diligently all week. The crew consisted of Mark Blunden, Chris Monahan and Rick Dow. 

“This project was such a blessing to keep me safe and under cover as winter approaches. The Hope-JG Foundation work keeps us active. Being able to run out to a meeting, without navigating the crumbling garage floor to get to a cold van parked outside, is huge. We can’t thank Matt Cook, President Dlugos, and the team Matt gathered, enough,” John said, expressing his gratitude.

In a world filled with chaos, sadness and anger; the selflessness and compassion of a few individuals in a small town community is a reminder to never give up on hope. 

For more information about The Hope-JG Foundation, to make a donation, to support an innovator or to volunteer your services, please contact John and Linda at info@hope-jg.org.

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