Terry's House Breaks Ground in September

August 7, 2009 7:13:49 PM PDT
March 10th, 2009. The day Teresa Bizzell's life changed forever. Her son, 18 year old Melvin Bell barely survived a fiery crash in Chowchilla that killed 2 of his friends instantly. Bizzell said, "He was burned fourth degree burns, 70% of his body. He's lost half of his left foot and half his right leg. I got called by the bedside four times in four weeks saying my son wasn't going to make it."Melvin, who until a few days ago wasn't able to talk, whispered "I dream about them." The six time regional Flat Track Quad champ has endured 34 delicate operations at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno. He said, "I didn't think I was going to be able to handle all this because my 2 friends passed away."

With her son at the only level one trauma center from Sacramento to Los Angeles, Teresa traveled thousands of miles back and forth from her home in Chowchilla to Fresno to be with her son. She spent $9,000 on food and gas in the first two months. A hotel? Too expensive. A tiny, cramped hospital room with only waiting room chairs became home. Teresa said, "I slept on the floor plenty nights. Cause I didn't wanna leave my son, I wasn't gonna leave my son."

But sometimes others have to sleep in the hospital lobby or even their cars. Through his own personal crisis, "My father had a severe heart attack" Valley contractor Jeff Kroeker realized a critical need. "A place for the families to come to get away, to shower to sleep, be close enough to go back to the hospital at a moment's notice in case the doctor calls."

So when he heard about the $5 million dollar project called Terry's House, slated for construction across the street from CRMC, he jumped on board. He also recruited Fresno native and national drag racing champion Gary Scelzi to help raise the last one million dollars for Terry's House. The two story home will have 20 rooms, kitchen and laundry facility. Kroeker said, "We have a first class medical facility, we have the best doctors now we need a place for the families to stay." Families like Melvin's. Gary Scelzi recently went to CRMC's Burn Center to meet Melvin, a fellow racer who has won the regional championship for flat track quad racing six times. He said, "How are you Melvin?" The retired race car driver shared several racing stories with Melvin and told him these days he's speeding toward another finish line, one that leads to the ground breaking for Terry's House in September. Scelzi said, "You see these poor people and they have miles to go and they sleep in their cars because they don't wanna leave their family, it just rips your heart out."

The home won't be ready in time for Melvin's family to enjoy but his mother said, "That's ok, it will be there for other families." Melvin, in a soft whisper said he's happy others in his situation will one day, "Be close to their loved ones" when they need them the most. Just like his mom was there for him every step of the way.

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Community will break ground on Terry's House in September. Loved ones of patients at Community can't always afford a hotel room and often sleep in the waiting room or even in their cars and the house will offer convenient and affordable lodging for families while their loved ones receive critical care. The facility will be a 17,000-square-foot, two-story home within walking distance of the main entrance of Community Regional. It will have 20 guest rooms with private baths, in-house refrigerators, an activity lounge and sitting areas for relaxation. It also will have a family resource center, children's activity room, an exercise room and a healing garden.

Raco will present $50,000 to Phyllis Baltz, chief operating officer of Community Regional Medical Center.

"This gift is another sign of support of how important Terry's House will be in helping us care for our patients by providing a convenient, close-by facility for the family to retreat to, yet be immediately available to their loved one," Baltz said. "We hope this gift inspires others to join in our campaign to build Terry's House."

Community Medical Centers' Terry's House is entirely dependent upon private gifts and contributions and Community Medical Foundation's goal is to reach $5 million to build the house, with additional funds to be raised to cover internal furnishings and future operations. The project's financing began with generous gifts from Tom Richards, Bank of America and Lennar Homes. Tom Richard's brother, Terry, is the namesake behind Terry's House. Terry was seriously injured in a car accident when he was five, and Terry's mother drove 80 miles a day for months to be with her son.

To learn more about Terry's House or to make a gift, visit www.TerrysHouseFresno.com

To make a donation please click here

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