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Seattle Alumni Service Project Helps Resident Remain Independent

Posted on May 17, 2011 in: @Gonzaga, Alumni, Events, Faith, Feature Stories, Service, Students

Volunteers from the Seattle Area Chapter of the Gonzaga Alumni Association clean up the yard for Victoria Powell, who is confined to her wheelchair. Photo courtesy of Arnie Mondlach.

By Arnie Mondloch (’84) & Matt Sullivan (’03)
Seattle Area Alumni Chapter

SEATTLE – Victoria Powell was too proud and independent to ask for help – even after losing her husband, Eli, a veteran, to heart disease in 1998.

Powell was determined to live independently, even after being diagnosed with diabetes and spending months in and out of the hospital. Her determination continued after her furnace failed and she was forced to prop open the oven door to heat her home. However, when doctors amputated her right leg, confining her to a wheelchair, she finally asked for help.

With help from the Seattle Chapter of the Gonzaga University Alumni Association, Victoria Powell is able to remain independent in her home of 32 years. Photo by Arnie Mondloch.

With help from the Seattle Area Chapter of the Gonzaga University Alumni Association, Victoria Powell is able to remain independent in her home of 32 years. Photo by Arnie Mondloch.

Victoria applied for help from Rebuilding Together Seattle, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting homeowners with free home repair and improvement services. Rebuilding Together agreed to help and asked the Gonzaga Alumni Seattle Chapter to assist Victoria.

The Seattle Chapter, in its fifth year of working with Rebuilding Together, took on the project with zeal. Nearly 70 parents, friends, and GU alumni volunteered on April 30 as part of the Chapter’s Annual Service event. Volunteers cleared thickets of blackberry bushes, tore down a dilapidated garage, cleared out a waterlogged basement, painted the home’s exterior, and organized two bedrooms to give Victoria a new, more accessible space to sleep. The volunteers also installed a new wheelchair ramp, replacement window, furnace, washer/dryer, and water heater.

Washington’s First Gentleman, Mike Gregoire, visited the project site and The Seattle Times covered the Chapter’s work with a full story in its Sunday edition; view photo gallery online. Gonzaga sophomore Lauren Kuhn, the current Miss Seattle, also visited the site and is sponsoring another project on Saturday, June 4; sign up at the following Facebook link.

The spirit of giving back instilled at Gonzaga is alive and well with alumni in the Seattle area.  Thanks to their efforts, Victoria is once again able to live independently, warm and safe, in her beloved home of 32 years.

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