When the Sinato family began their journey with Habitat GTA, Lorena was a single mother determined to offer her nine-year-old son Bryan the best life possible. Blind and suffering from Cerebral Palsy, Bryan requires 24-hour care to help him eat and get around. Living in a high-rise building was a daily struggle, since the family required extra space to accommodate the equipment Bryan needed to help live a full life.
When the elevators weren’t working, as was often the case, Bryan had to be carried up six flights of stairs. Unsanitary conditions throughout the building posed a real threat to Bryan’s health; his feeding tubes required a high standard of cleanliness to ensure his well-being. The police were regularly called to the building in the middle of the night to deal with violence and other problems and Lorena was increasingly concerned for their safety.
In 2012, Lorena and Bryan moved into their fully-accessible home on Ritchie Avenue excited about the prospect of having a safe and clean place to live. Little could they imagine what more lay ahead for them.
“Bryan moves with a walker on his own now,” says Lorena with pride. “It took three years to train him, but with more space it was possible for him to learn to get around our home by himself. He no longer needs to wait for me to walk him from room to room, he is more independent and that has made a huge difference in both of our lives.”
Living in a home with space in a safe neighbourhood has also made it possible for Lorena to get an overnight nurse to come in to take care of Bryan with feeding and bathroom, so she can sleep all night for three days a week. She is also helping other mothers who have special-needs children. Frequently, she hosts a group meeting in her home, gathering other women in similar circumstances to offer support and encouragement and share advice and share resources.
When asked what was the most unexpected outcome of becoming a Habitat homeowner, Lorena is quick to reply, “I’d have to say meeting my husband Gordon, who was a volunteer building my home. I met him while I was completing my hours. We started dating and last August we were married.”
Looking back on her life these past four years, Lorena says, “If Habitat didn’t exist, I know I would have been in a co-op building forever. I was a single mom working full-time to provide a better quality life for my son, trying to pay for therapy and extra care. With all the medical expenses to cover, I wouldn’t have been able to get a mortgage.”
Lorena’s advice to other would-be Habitat homeowners…”It’s the same advice I give to my son – Never give up on your dreams, always try, don’t stop.”