Handicapped Modifications to John Berg’s Home

The Home Depot Foundation awarded a $6,500 grant to the Abilities Foundation to fund handicapped modifications to John Berg, III’s home at Cherry Tree Lane in New Port Richey, Florida. John sustained a rare brain stem stroke in 2007 that left him totally paralyzed. He was in dire need of a portable generator to power his breathing apparatus in the event of an electrical outage, and also sought access to his backyard, where he could watch his young children play.  

Through its B & G Endowment, the Abilities Foundation had purchased wheelchair-accessible flooring from Home Depot for him last year, so The Home Depot Foundation asked us to apply and selected the Foundation as the local charitable project partner for this latest venture.

00 Berg Fam
Johnny, Jamie, Mindy, and John Berg, III, with John Berg, Jr.

Abilities Foundation officials met with the family and Home Depot store managers at the home to conduct a site visit and outline the project plans. The objectives were to make the backyard wheelchair-accessible by installing a pressure-treated ramp and deck, privacy fencing, and landscaping, and purchase a gas-powered generator.


  Abilities publicist Rob Sumner, left, with store manager Frank Essex and the project planning committee

Prior to construction, Rob Sumner arranged for Drew Harwell of the St. Petersburg Times to write an advance feature story that appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Pasco Times. Titled 'Kindness of strangers helps New Port Richey man,' the full-page story included this and other photos:

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Pasco Times front-page Berg family photo

Read the full story: http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/kindness-of-strangers-helps-new-port-richey-family/1108185

After building materials were delivered, upwards of 40 Home Depot employees from area stores volunteered on their days off, working on ramp, deck, fence, and landscape crews.


Scores of Team Depot employees contributed considerable time and talent to the project

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The privacy fence crew worked diligently to ensure all sections were plumb and properly secured

The Abilities Foundation oversaw the entire construction, verifying that the building materials it purchased were delivered and installed as planned, and that improvements would meet project objectives. 

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Tree roots were a major obstacle to installing the ramp. A pick axe, reciprocating saw, and stump grinder were used to clear them.

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Home Depot crews level and secure the pressure-treated wheelchair ramp  

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A torrential downpour slowed, but did not deter volunteers

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Rail posts are notched with power saws and chisels

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Home Depot volunteer worked tirelessly for two days, ensuring the Bergs of an accessible, safe, and secure backyard

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In coordination with representatives at The Home Depot Foundation, the Abilities Foundation orchestrated alerts and extensive media coverage prior to and during the construction. The backyard makeover attracted news reporters, videographers, and photographers from all the major broadcast television stations, local televisions cable provider, the St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, USA Today, and msnbc.com.  


BayNews9 TV was among the many media outlets that interviewed store manager Frank Essex and covered the event



Abilities Foundation CEO Frank De Lucia, right, presents the $6,500 check to Frank Essex

The television stories were produced and edited in time to air on the 6 p.m. news telecasts on three network stations and BayNews9 cable TV that evening. In addition, the St. Petersburg Times and The Tampa Tribune ran front-page features with photos the following day.  

Click these links to view the broadcasts and read the newspaper features:

St. Petersburg Times

Channel 10 

BayNews 9

Tampa Tribune



BayNews Cable TV http://www.baynews9.com/video?clip=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic.baynews9.com%2Fnewsvideo%2Fbn9%2Fweb_video%2FNPR_Home_Makeover_715.flv

The next day, Home Depot volunteers returned to finish the ramp and deck and landscape the yard.

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Domino's Pizza and San’s Pizza donated lunch both days, while a neighbor purchased the Bergs a Home Depot patio set.
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Volunteers go to great heights to install a swing in the backyard, but it’s all worth it

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Workers put the finishing touches on the project, while Nigel Hood, Frank Essex, and John Berg, Jr. beam with approval 

 And the results were stunning…

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John’s eyes lit up when he made his first-ever visit to his backyard since the stroke. Mindy said he was most appreciative. John’s father said, ‘My son has had a life-and-death struggle for the past two and a half years, and finally something good happened. I know of no words to describe our gratitude to all those involved, including the media.’  When asked if she was satisfied with the results, John’s wife Mindy replied, ‘It’s a million times more than I ever expected!’

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Thanks The Home Depot Foundation and Home Depot volunteers, an inaccessible, neglected backyard has become a stunning, park-like barrier-free haven, where a father with extremely limited mobility a can enjoy being with his family and watching his children play and grow in a safe, private, and secure setting.

The Abilities Foundation was honored to serve as the charitable partner for several reasons. To begin with, our vision is to ensure that Floridians with disabilities have access to everything community life has to offer, so this project is exactly what we aspire to accomplish.

Secondly, we have enormous admiration and respect for Frank Essex and all of the store managers and employees who contributed mightily to this project. From our first encounter with Team Home Depot until the final good-byes on day two of construction, we were thoroughly impressed with their work ethic, professionalism, and dedication. Despite oppressive Florida heat and a heavy downpour, they worked tirelessly to transport, excavate, install, construct, beautify, clean up, and do whatever else it took to get this job done swiftly and properly. Thirdly, as a loyal and longstanding Home Depot customer, it’s very gratifying to see that the store's charitable outreach is directed locally and towards projects benefiting people with disabilities. Having spent considerable time with the Bergs, I can’t conceive of more a gracious or deserving family.

It was our privilege to assure that the contractual obligations of this grant were met and exceeded. As promised, we kept officials routinely informed of our progress via e-mail updates, coordinated media contacts, and seized every conceivable opportunity to call attention to and gratefully acknowledge The Home Depot Foundation’s generous support. But it’s not over yet.

Thanks to the widespread TV publicity, viewers have called to help to the Bergs, including securing a wheelchair-accessible van. Others in need of services, such as having ramps installed, have called us for help. John’s father has written letters to newspaper editors, which will likely generate more communication from potential donors and people with needs. We have posted the project numerous times on the Abilities Foundation Facebook wall, adding a photo album and links to media accounts. Mindy Berg and Frank Essex have offered to speak at Foundation functions to express their appreciation and help us obtain more funding for similar projects, as the needs far outweigh the money available.

We take great pride in accounting for charitable contributions, and trust that our adherence to the contract and vigilant oversight of this project will merit additional partnerships with The Home Depot Foundation.

Respectfully yours,

Frank De Lucia
President and CEO
Abilities Foundation


Amanda wrote: I would like to say thank you to the home depot workers for helping my 1st cousin Johnny. he is a strong man and a fighter. Just doing this for him makes him so happy and when me n my family see him happy we all get very happy it brings tears to our eyes. i just wanted to say thank you.

Megan wrote: I agree Sara I LOVE hearing about good things

Sara wrote: It’s nice to get on the computer and see a happy story for once!! Great Job Home Depot, and to this family, Stay Strong! 

Holly wrote: I was the boys’ daycare provider when they were younger. The stroke was devastating to the family and our daycare family. We have been able to help them out with their needs before, I have personally raised money and received donations in the way of toys 2 years ago to help out with groceries and Christmas presents :) Keep on going Mindy may God give you strength for being the sole provider of your 

Donnaree wrote: just when you thought all the news is full of sad events you read a story about people helping each other and it restores your faith. Bless all you people who is helping this family. I’ll keep yall in my prayers. I pray for a miracle. KUDOS!
Dee wrote: Such a wonderful touching story. Kudos to Home Depot and the caring volunteers!

Birdie wrote:  Nice story

Debbi64 wrote:  May ALL those involved, find joy for their kindness and love. Thank you Home Depot and Staff!!!!

Ronzone wrote:  Again, Drew did a GREAT JOB on this story as his last on the Berg Family!!! Once again, HOME DEPOT is my store of choice. What a GREAT JOB HOME DEPOT WORKERS!!!

Posted by (OldPlowboy)
And just when I was going to quit HD and start going to Lowes, This comes up, So now I am back to HD and I haven't left the house yet. Thanks HD

Thank you good friend and neighbor Nigel Hood for introducing Mr. Essex to John's parents and getting this whole thing started. Thank you Mr. Essex, Home Depot and the Abilities Foundation for giving John and his family some peace of mind and quality of life back. This show of kindness and compassion is amazing!
It is refreshing to read a good story. There is so much sadness around right now. Go Home Depot. You guys really messed up my rugs and I will still never buy another rug from you after the fiasco I went through with the installers and all but I will always respect you guys. That was wonderful team work. There are still great people out there. Mr. Berg sorry for your situation I feel for you & your family; through the love and kindness of others hopefully this will make you more comfortable and able to enjoy your children. Enjoy they grow up too quick. 

There really are a lot of good and wonderful people in the world. We all just need to stop watching and reading all the negative news and look outside, it really is a wonderful world. 

Posted by (Amanda_Babii) thank you home depot for helping my cousin the whole family is very very happy and excited now that Johnny can spend more time with his kids playing =)

I love you Johnny. You are 1if my fav 1st cousins ever! And I hope to see you again soon and maybe have another party with little john Jamie and Riley again. I MISS YOU GUYS!!!

Posted by (ax2grind) Take that, Extreme Makeover. Without all the cameras and hoopla, Home Depot smoked you without tearing the house down to do it. Home Depot is okay by me. To the people who donated their time and talents, you guys are real everyday heroes.
Posted by (jcthankful) on 07/21/2010 at 08:09 am.
I am so glad to see that there are still nice people in this world.


Abilities Foundation During the two days of construction at the Berg home, Domino's Pizza donated and delivered lots of free pies to the volunteers, as did San's Pizza. Many thanks to the fine folks at Domino's and San's!
Abilities Foundation So moved by the backyard makeover was one neighborhood family that they purchased a complete patio set (six chairs, table, umbrella and stand) from Home Depot for the Bergs! It was delivered just in time for the completion of the project, and fits perfectly on the new deck.

Lauren DeLucia OropezaLauren DeLucia Oropeza That is so cool!!! =)

Abilities Foundation Home Depot's team of volunteers returns to John Berg's home on Friday to complete the backyard renovations.
http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs043.snc4/34517_409832318542_262946208542_4536920_7709306_s.jpg http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs043.snc4/34517_409832293542_262946208542_4536915_6973641_s.jpg http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs063.snc4/34517_409832298542_262946208542_4536916_2209402_s.jpg Berg Family Modifications Day II 32 new photos

Mindy Haines Berg Mindy Haines Berg My family and I cannot thank you enough! Through your help and the Home Depot we can all enjoy our back yard together as a family. We have not been able to do that for over 2 years! Thank you for all of your hard work supporting the people of Florida with disabilities. You are all angels in my eyes!

Abilities Foundation
Thanks for the kind words, Mindy! There is no place I would rather have been last week than in your backyard teaming with Home Depot! Photos of Friday's work to follow.
Ron Armstrong Ron Armstrong GREAT JOB BY ALL!!! John, Mindy and Family are well deserving of all the work that was done. I can't wait for John to come back to work with us!!!THANK YOU ABILITIES FOUNDATION AND HOME DEPOT + WORKERS!!!

Abilities Foundation The Foundation was honored to be among 35 Home Depot Team employees who volunteered on their day off Thursday to begin the backyard makeover at John Berg's New Port Richey home. Check the album below for pics of some very dedicated and charitably-minded members of our community!
http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs080.snc4/35371_409795888542_262946208542_4536027_4697406_s.jpg Abilities Foundation Handicapped modifications and backyard makeover courtesy of The Home Depot Foundation and the Abilities Foundation

http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs028.ash2/34745_409788318542_262946208542_4535799_3442695_s.jpg  http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs068.snc4/34745_409788323542_262946208542_4535800_811404_s.jpg http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs028.ash2/34745_409788328542_262946208542_4535801_6386264_s.jpg Berg Family Home Modifications 67 new photos

Abilities Foundation The origin of our support of the John Berg family can be traced back to Tom McKone, a former Abilities employee who obtained an Abilities Foundation B & G Endowment grant to purchase and install a wheelchair-accessible bedroom floor for John last year from Home Depot. When The Home Depot Foundation needed to select a charitable partner to administer funds for major home modifications, they selected us, and we were delighted.
http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs070.snc4/34885_408824323542_262946208542_4508997_4183344_s.jpg Abilities Foundation Tom McKone and Mindy and Jamie Berg Abilities Foundation Read The Tampa Tribune's account of how the partnership of The Home Depot Foundation and Abilities Foundation will result in a complete and handicapped-accessible backyard makeover at the New Port Richey home of John Berg, III...http://external.ak.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=74334f173370c55f1df118c8968f2b86&w=90&h=90&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.tbo.com%2Fexposure%2Far%2F220%2F220%2F2010%2F07%2F15%2F58690_home-depot-volunteers.jpg Home Depot volunteers improve paralyzed man's Pasco home www2.tbo.com By 9 a.m., about 40 Home Depot employees from stores in Seminole and New Port Richey were in John Berg's back yard, erecting a fence, busting out roots, tearing out a concrete slab and building a ramp...

Tom McKoneTom McKone Thanks for everything Frank

Abilities Foundation
Project was completed around 4 pm Friday, Tom. The Bergs are very happy!
Abilities Foundation We'll be at the John Berg home-modification project in New Port Richey tomorrow. We expect BayNews9 and other media outlets to cover The Home Depot Foundation-sponsored backyard makeover, so stay tuned! Pictured below are John's wife Mindy, and sons Johnny and Jamie.
http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs165.snc4/37576_408296788542_262946208542_4498665_5564658_s.jpg Abilities Foundation Tomorrow morning, three volunteer work crews from area Home Depot stores will begin installing handicapped-accessible modifications at the New Port Richey home of John Berg, III. The Abilities Foundation is funding the project through a $6,500 grant provided by Atlanta-based The Home Depot Foundation. Watch for more info and details!

Brandi Winans
Brandi Winans
Thanks Frank for all that you do to help others less fortunate...

Abilities Foundation In partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, the Abilities Foundation will fund handicapped modifications to the home of John Berg, III, who sustained a debilitating brain stem stroke in 2008. Read the St. Petersburg Times' account of how 'strangers' are helping this New Port Richey family. The Abilities Foundation i...s no stranger to John Berg, however, having funded a new bedroom floor for him a year ago through its B & G Endowment. Stay tuned, as construction begins Thursday.
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http://external.ak.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=80adc4fed40b848e3bcb775f2366de8f&w=90&h=90&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tampabay.com%2Fmultimedia%2Farchive%2F00130%2Fpasstroke071110a_130284c.jpg Kindness of strangers helps New Port Richey family - St. Petersburg Times   www.tampabay.com Stuck in a body he can't move, a young father is mostly stuck in the house. But that will change. NEW PORT RICHEY — On his drive home from work, two weeks before Christmas in 2007, John Berg III felt dizzy.

Brad Wood Brad Wood  A huge thank you to Frank De Lucia and Abilities Foundation, and especially to Home Depot for their compassion and generosity. What a blessing you've been to a family in need! Thanks so much!

Abilities Foundation
Thanks for the kind words, Brad! The Home Depot Foundation based in Atlanta needed a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner, and since we had helped John in the past, they asked us to apply and selected us. We were thrilled, inasmuch as the Foundation's vision is to ensure that Floridians with disabilities have access to everything community life has to offer.


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