Story #12

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Nidia R. – Minor repairs = major relief

BronxWorks Minor Repair Program &
Morris Innovative Senior Center

Recent personal developments for 64-year-old Nidia required her to find a more affordable apartment, so she moved to a studio in Morris Heights. Because it was a new neighborhood, she felt isolated and she missed her former support system. But Nidia was thrilled when she learned that the Morris Innovative Senior Center (ISC) was just a block-and-a-half away. After joining the Center, she quickly made friends with other seniors, going every day for meals and activities like dance classes and trips to the farmers market.

One day, Maria Rivera, the BronxWorks Director of Senior Services, found Nidia crying and asked her what was wrong. Nidia told Maria that she had serious rat problems in her apartment and the superintendent refused to help. She was extremely anxious and would cry constantly due to her severe phobia of rats. Every night she would hear the rats scurrying around. She even adopted a kitten, who she named Melvin, in hopes that he would scare away the rats, but she was troubled to find that the rats were actually larger than her still-growing cat!

Nidia also told Maria that she found a stranger on the street and paid him to seal up the rat holes, but his work was ineffective. Nidia recognized that bringing a stranger into her home was poor judgment, likely a result of the prolonged lack of sleep she’d been suffering from, combined with her feelings of desperation. Soon after, she was briefly hospitalized for anxiety. Nidia can no longer work because of several chronic health issues and she uses a walker, so all of this was additional stress she did not need.

Nidia was an ideal candidate for the Minor Repair Program. The program is based at the Morris ISC and employs a skilled technician who helps seniors in their homes. BronxWorks staff approached Nidia’s superintendent about the needed repairs but he was uncooperative and unresponsive, and they knew Nidia’s anxiety called for a quick solution. Maria asked the Minor Repair Technician, Coi Bryant, to investigate Nidia’s situation. He was able to fill in the holes, reinforce them with steel wool and wire mesh, and seal them with plaster. Coi also conducted a security survey and found other problems such as broken tiles and loose floor boards that put her at high risk of falling. Coi made several more visits to repair the various issues in Nidia’s apartment, including fixing the door lock, a moldy bathroom ceiling, and a sticky window so she could get fresh air.

All this help was provided to Nidia at no cost, and she is extremely thankful. Nidia exudes gratitude when she speaks of both Maria and Coi. She says, “I have to count my blessings despite my phobia. These are good people. Everything they do comes out of their heart. Maria will stop whatever she’s doing to take care of us seniors.”

Nidia is much happier now. She loves the activities and friendly environment at the Morris ISC and caring for Melvin. Nidia tells us that her life has absolutely been lifted by her experience with BronxWorks. Our gratitude to all those who make it possible for BronxWorks to feed, shelter, teach, and support our neighbors, like Nidia, building a stronger Bronx community.

The BronxWorks Minor Repair Program assists seniors who need assistance with repairs for relatively minor home issues and for whom the cost of a handyman is prohibitive. The Minor Repair Technician is a trusted and skilled BronxWorks staff member who comes to seniors’ homes to ensure their safety and security by doing repairs such as fixing locks, securing windows, testing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, etc. Questions or comments? Send them to info@bronxworks.org.

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