Hope for the hopeful; T ‘N G Plumbing selects Pay It Forward recipients
Published 10:26 am Thursday, February 25, 2016
For the third straight year, T ‘N G Plumbing is helping a family in need.
The recipients of the third annual Pay It Forward project are Becky and Gary Josephson. They have a family home with one bathroom, which sees a lot of traffic from visitors including two children and their spouses, and three grandchildren.
They have lived in their house since September 1988, but the main problem is the mold in their bathroom.
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“It’s definitely in need of desperate repair,” Becky said. “The mold continues to be a huge issue for me. I don’t know if the [doctors] would let me come home to that bathroom, and a couple of other issues in the house.”
Becky was diagnosed three years ago with polycystic kidney disease, a disease in which abnormal cysts develop and grow on the kidneys and can become large and painful. She has been on a kidney transplant list for about a year, a list that tends to have a five-year wait.
The disease is hereditary, but Becky and her sister did not know they had the disease until their mother passed away. Her sister was diagnosed with it and told Becky she had better go to the doctor and get checked.
Finding donors is difficult for Becky and her sister because her parents were only children, so there are no aunts or uncles or cousins to help her out.
A friend donated a kidney to Becky’s sister, who is doing well after a successful transplant.
“I just keep praying that that will soon be the case for me as well,” Becky said. “It’s been tough.”
There were two possible donors that matched Becky’s blood type, but neither passed the required two-day evaluation.
When she does get a transplant, she said it’s hard to say doctors would let her come home to that bathroom. Everything has to be clean and sanitary after a transplant, she said.
This was taken into consideration when they were nominated for Pay It Forward, according to Gina Grundmeier, co-owner of T ‘N G Plumbing.
“The next thing is with her creatinine levels increasing, whether it’s the dialysis she has to start or, you know, when she does get to the point with the transplant. And one of the things in older houses with the bathrooms and ventilation is where you get the mold and stuff. And that is crucial to not have, especially when you’re trying to heal from such a major surgery,” Grundmeier said.
Becky said she couldn’t describe how she felt when she found out they were this year’s recipients.
“It’s a positive impact for me,” Becky said. “I just can’t express how heartfelt it is. The mold is a huge issue, and I’d like to get it taken care of.”
Gary is also unable to work due to arthritis in his hands.
The project will be completed through five days of work. T ‘N G Plumbing will also take on smaller projects such as replacing water softeners and water heaters. Other companies such as Austin Electric, Doors and Floors and more will also help with the project. The Austin Holiday Inn will lodge the family during the remodel, while several restaurants will donate meals.
“We all walk away with this euphoric feeling,” Grundmeier said. “It’s a beautiful thing to be able to do.”
Four people work at T ‘N G and Grundmeier has a friend that helps during Pay It Forward.
This month marks their fifth year of business for the Dexter-based T ‘N G Plumbing. The business was named the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year last year, and they were awarded Best of Mower County Plumber in July of 2014 and 2015.
“My husband and I were just blown away, because we had just been in business for two years and we were like flabbergasted, that was so incredible,” Grundmeier said. “We don’t succeed without everybody else. So we wanted to find a way … how do you pay back a community that puts that kind of faith in you?”
Seeking a way to give back, the Grundmeier’s formed Pay It Forward.
Grundmeier said one of the most neglected rooms in a house can be a bathroom, because it’s not the main focal point and remodels can be costly.
“I just thought, well there’s got to be people out there that need it, that would never ask for it, but [other] people can share a story of why this person [needs it]…and it just kind of went from there,” Grundmeier said.
They are also working to make the company’s project a nonprofit group. They are waiting for the Exempt Organization (EO) letter to come back from the IRS.
“What we’d like to do is continue to do the main project every year, but there’s always little things we see throughout the year, that if we could do some more or little bits and pieces, we’d like to do more stuff like that throughout the year,” Grundmeier said. “But financially it’s not something we can afford to do on our own.”
Families are nominated for the remodel through an essay contest. Becky and Gary were nominated by their son, Dustin, and his wife, Megan.
“Basically, once she gets a kidney transplant, she’s not going to be able to be around that mold and stuff,” Megan said.
The program requires recipients to own their home, and someone must write an essay explaining why the family should get the makeover and submit it with photos of the bathroom. There is no word count requirement, just whatever it takes to tell the family’s story.
With the efforts to make the project a nonprofit, the group isn’t likely to stop paying it forward anytime soon.
“When we get all done, it is such an amazing feeling for everybody that works to be able to do something like that,” Grundmeier said.