BALTIMORE, md. — "I just stay in the house. I don't even bother to go out there," said Joyce Butler. She can't walk on her own. She's dependent on a walker or wheelchair so she just stays home unless she has a doctor's appointment.
She served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. When she retired, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat it but now has a lot of other health issues.
"She has diabetes, she’s lost half of one foot. She’s lost toes. She’s got kidney failure. She’s had cancer. She can’t do for herself. She has some memory loss, and we try to do as much as we can but we have families too to take care of," said Anne Bazemore, Joyce's older sister.
Anne contacted WMAR-2 News for help after they say they've been trying to get assistance for Joyce for years. Her heating and air conditioning system broke a few years ago so she's been using her oven and space heaters to stay warm in the winter. In the summer, she's been using a/c window units and her electric bills are expensive. She also can't use her bathroom on her own.
As soon as Anne reached out to WMAR-2 News, we contacted VA Healthcare and they immediately put a social worker on the case. They supplied her with home help weekly and they're working with her to get a home improvement grant, to hopefully make her bathroom handicap accessible.
As for the heat, HGH Mechanical in Edgewood heard Joyce's story and installed a brand-new system for free.
"We just decided it was something we had to do. It's a shame our veterans are being treated like this," said Manny Gomez, the owner of HGH Mechanical. He got all the equipment donated for the project from other companies he works with. Duct works in Edgemere supplied sheet metal and Ferguson Enterprises donated the HVAC system.
"They reached out to us in regard to the situation and it was really a no brainer to donate the equipment," said Margaret Posey, the Territory Manager for Ferguson enterprises.
Later in March, Ductz of the Upper Bay Region are going to clean her air ducts. "You’re really talking about an indoor air quality issue. You’re living with 30/40/50 years of accumulated dust in the system. Those allergens, contaminants, skin flakes, pet dander, you name it... it’s in that system. There's a piece of duct, you’ll see that’s in there and we’ll be able to get all that out," said Scott Jason, Owner of Ductz of the Upper Bay Region.
Joyce was unfortunately in the hospital when the new system was installed but Anne and the rest of the family are extremely grateful for all the help.
"I’m overjoyed. I know she’ll be happy when she comes home from the hospital. I couldn’t be more appreciative. I just can't... I’m overwhelmed. I just can’t explain how grateful I am," said Anne.
Joyce has been released from the hospital but is in a rehab center before hopefully going home soon.