By Maria Holloway
Described by friends as a “humble, quiet, shining star”, Andy Barlow gives of himself every day. Anyone who knows Andy would agree. Whether helping a friend to fix a car or teaching kids with disabilities to ski, Andy is there to give it his all.
A recent effort to give back to Andy is now taking hold in the community and the goal is to provide him with a more comfortable and affordable home very soon.
Andy Barlow, a lifelong resident of Hanover, grew up on the family homestead on Main Street. He is a brother, uncle and friend to many. He is an active outdoorsman, lumberjack, gardener, handyman, dedicated volunteer, and an amazing skier.
Having been born with Spina Bifida has never limited Andy‘s ability to give to others. Paralyzed from the waist down for most of his life, Andy depends on a wheelchair and his ATV, to get around. Mobility is challenging in an old New England 1800s farmhouse in the country.
A few years ago, friends realized that the declining condition of the old property was making it difficult for Andy to maintain, from both a physical and financial standpoint. So Andy’s friends have spearheaded construction plans and fundraising to build him a new home.
Wendy Cavers of Buxton, Maine is a dear friend of Andy. You might say she is the founder of the effort to provide a more livable home for Andy. She met Andy many years ago through Maine Adaptive Sports, formerly known as Maine Handicapped Skiing. Like Andy, Wendy is also a volunteer at Maine Adaptive. For Cavers, Andy has been an inspiration to her as a colleague and friend, as he has been to thousands of handicapped skiers whom he has taught and mentored in his 25+ years with the organization.
“The idea for the project began over two years ago,” says Cavers. “Last year the interest exploded! Andy’s house is currently not accessible at all. We want to build an accessible, livable home for Andy. He is a wonderful friend.”
Andy lives on the ground floor of the home which is accessible only through the barn, leaving no emergency escape route. There is no ramp to the front door. The second floor is not accessible via wheelchair so the area is curtained off to prevent extensive heat loss throughout the home. The only source of heat for the first floor kitchen, living room and bathroom is a wood stove, for which Andy alone harvests and splits eight cords of wood each winter!
Local professionals have banded together to donate services and materials and the blueprints have been drawn. The house will be 32’ X 26’ and will be located behind the barn. The new home will be accessible for easy mobility. A key feature will be radiant heated floors to keep Andy comfortably warm, in addition to the installation of a wood stove as a secondary source of heat. The plan is to start construction this coming spring. As soon as enough money is raised the groundbreaking will begin.
Fundraising efforts began late this summer. The goal is to raise an estimated $40,000 needed for the project. Thus far $3623.00 has been received.
Rather than establish a non-profit organization which can be costly and labor intensive, Cavers and others sought out the help of HelpHOPELive, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, based in Pennsylvania. The mission of HelpHOPELive is to provide fundraising support and guidance for patients and families dealing with catastrophic illnesses. HelpHOPELive functions as a fiscal agent and administers the donated funds, paying contractors directly once the project begins. HelpHOPELive assumes only 4% of the proceeds for their costs to manage the funds and for support of fundraising efforts. This trusted and reputable organization has been serving families in need for over 30 years and has received top ratings from Charity Navigator, a consumer watchdog of charitable organizations.
Andy’s neighbors, friends, and members of local area organizations are in the early stages of planning fundraising campaigns to support the project. At this time, Cavers says that they are relying on getting the information out via word-of-mouth. They are asking individuals to make monetary contributions via HelpHOPELive.org until community-based fundraising campaigns become established, which may not be until early 2015.
You may visit HelpHOPELive.org where you will find Andy Barlow’s story and testimonials from supporters in the online guestbook. All donations via HelpHOPELive.org are tax-deductible should you wish to take advantage of this for the 2014 tax year.
If your organization wishes to start a fundraising event or campaign to support the building of Andy’s new home, please contact Wendy Cavers at 207-239-7308 or call Joni at HelpHOPELive at 800-642-8399 to learn more.
What does the self-sufficient, “humble, quiet, shining star” think of all this attention?
With a sparkle in his eyes, Andy humbly replies, “I’m okay with it.”