The Brooks family of Nether Providence is due for some good luck. The kindness and generosity of neighbors may provide it, but further support is needed for a fundraising effort that can literally rebuild the family’s security, after shattering misfortunes over recent years.
Paul Brooks attended Nether Providence Elementary, Strath Haven Middle and High schools as he grew up in Garden City, the third generation of his family in the neighborhood.
For the past 16½ years, he and his wife Janet have lived in a one-bedroom house on Denver Street. They share the home with teenaged son Paulie and daughter Kristy, both of whom are on the autism spectrum.
Paulie and Kristy sleep in bunk beds in the bedroom; Paul and Janet share a sofa-bed in the living room. “It’s hard to be stuck living like this,” Janet said. “We’ve never asked for anything, but these kids are gonna get their own rooms. That’s always been my goal.”
The goal seemed within reach a few years ago. Paul worked for Comcast for 15 years before the day his truck was rear-ended, breaking his back and permanently disabling him. The couple figured that an injury settlement and other family savings were enough to construct an addition to their home. But the contractor they hired did a bare minimum of work before absconding with $25,000 the Brookses had paid him.
Three years ago, Fox29 reporter Chris O’Connell produced a story about the ripoff that had broken the dreams of his fellow Strath Haven alum and NPE friend Paul Brooks. Promises of help came forth from volunteers in the community, and indeed local firms stepped forward and donated architectural plans and masonry to construct the foundation. But most of those donations didn’t materialize, and much more remains to be done.
Paul says they were told, “Once the guy drives a nail in, it becomes a civil matter, not criminal.” The contractor has disappeared, and anyway, Janet said the family wouldn’t sue. “We just want to move on.”
When O’Connell got in touch recently to arrange a followup piece, he assumed the addition had been built. What he found instead seemed like an abandoned construction site.
In a broadcast news segment and subsequent video on a Fox29 blog, O’Connell lamented the situation and said, “I don’t know a more deserving family.”
He called for viewers to come up with ideas, and someone has come forth with a gofundme.com campaign to help the Brookses pay for the addition. Pledge form and the Fox29 story are at https://www.gofundme.com/brooksfamily404.
They’ve been burned before, and are understandably circumspect, but Paul and Janet Brooks remain optimistic that the addition that will complete their “retirement castle” is within reach.