VENICE — Alan and Alexis Adams still haven’t sold their house.
But after a Sun news story in Venice, they now has a host of people trying to help them do it.
Alan is a disability-retired Navy veteran who has neurological deficits and is legally blind due to a service-related incident. He and Alexis decided in December to move to Venice because its warm weather is far gentler on him physically than Ohio’s harsh winters.
They bought a house just south of Center Road sight unseen on a VA loan. It was only after moving that they learned it was on a fairly busy street with no sidewalks. It’s also farther from the Venice Gardens Civic Association pool than Alan can walk, even if there were sidewalks.
Their dream is to move into a bigger house with a more-open floor plan that is fitted out with handicapped-accessibilty features, in a subdivision with sidewalks and less traffic.
Realtor Robert Goldman, of Michael Saunders & Co., had a listing for a house in Pelican Pointe Golf & Country Club that met their criteria.
Because it hadn’t sold after a couple of months, he approached the owner, Betty Hackmeister, with an idea: Would she be willing to give the couple a contract and pull her house off the market until they can sell theirs?
As the widow of a veteran, she quickly agreed.
“I have a very soft heart for veterans,” she said. “I thought, if I can help a veteran, that would be great.”
The hitch is that while Alan and Alexis Adams are already approved for another VA loan, they can only have one at a time. Their existing one has to be paid off before they can take out a new one.
Goldman reached out to the community via email to try to find a buyer. And set a lot of wheels in motion.
A wallLynn Colett heard about the story from Judy Braham, CEO of Gulfcoast Women in Networking.
“Judy told me she thought she knew someone I could help,” Colett said.
Her company, An Organized Move, offers complete moving plans for people who are relocating. One of its services is staging homes for sale. Colett wanted to see if she could help make the house more appealing to potential buyers.
While the house presented well, it had one major flaw, she said: Its lanai was doubling as the master bedroom.
Sliding-glass doors off the small dining area led to the lanai/bedroom and another set opened to the back yard. The raised tracks for the doors were actually one of the things that hampered Alan’s mobility.
The fix was obvious — build a wall. Getting it paid for was another matter.
There was budget to consider, as well as the impact of raising the selling price to cover the expense when the house had already been on the market more than 50 days.
The helpAfter a meeting at the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce, Colett huddled with staff and got the names of contractors.
A few days later, she was at the house with Michael Bishop, of Bishop Construction Services.
Bishop saw that there needed to be two walls: one with doors leading into the lanai/bedroom space and a second one, also with double doors, to create an actual bedroom with some privacy.
Later that day, with a sketch of what he proposed to do, Bishop applied to the county for a building permit. They helped, too. He had it a few hours even though the typical wait is six weeks.
“It’s been an extremely fast process,” he said.
People changed their schedules around to be able to finish the project so quickly, Bishop said, and every vendor and subcontractor he asked to join him agreed to.
All of the labor and almost all of the materials were donated, he said. That turned a $15,000 job into one that will cost about $1,000.
Even though he grew up in Venice, he said he was still touched to see the way the community rallied to help the Alan and Alexis Adams.
“I’m pretty sure I cried at least three times during the project,” he said.
TearsHe’s not the only one.
“I’ve cried a lot in the last week,” Alan Adams said.
Partly that’s because of the transformation of the house, which he said looks “totally different.”
“Somebody’s going to be really lucky to get this house,” he said.
The improvements also make it a little easier on him. The tracks for the sliding-glass doors are gone and enclosing the bedroom keeps it darker, which helps with his sensitivity to light.
But it’s also because a fund has been created at the United Way of South Sarasota County Foundation to help with construction costs and any transaction expenses there might be, depending on what the Adamses house sells for.
People are helping in that regard, too.
Goldman said Michael Saunders is waiving its commission, while Tony Moore of Gulfside Mortgage Services will be crediting the couple the VA appraisal fee, the processing fee and the underwriting fees, a total donation of $1,885.
Colett said her company will handle the move, down to hanging pictures and “putting toothbrushes in place.”
Goldman said he had planned to work with Chabad of Venice & North Port to set up a sort of contingency fund but was approached by United Way Board Chair Paula Carney, of Navamaze, a senior-care coordinator, to go through its foundation.
Goldman said Chabad is planning to do a fundraiser to supplement the fund, and so is Alan.
“I think that’s the least I can do — keep paying it forward,” he said.
The family also wants to do a barbecue after their move to thank everyone who made it possible.
“We have met the most amazing people in this process,” he said.
Alan said he asked Bishop how the project came together so smoothly, and Bishop told him he didn’t know.
Alan has a theory.
“There’s definitely a power deeper than us working here,” he said.