Renewal Cares

Spotlight: Renewal Cares in Our Communities

our cultureIn the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of us have had to do some juggling in our lives—adjusting travel plans, figuring out new routines, deciding who would be the kids’ new “homeroom teacher.” 

For Marilena Villardi and family, those adjustments took on an extra layer of complexity. When Marilena’s husband Michael was deployed to Kuwait in August of 2019, serving as a diesel mechanic in the U.S. Army, it was supposed to be a normal term. Instead, thanks to travel restrictions, he, like many folks serving away from home, found himself stuck overseas. 

As a banker with Wells Fargo, Marilena was an essential worker—and now also the sole caregiver to the couple’s children, Andrew (5) and Alivia (1), as well as their two dogs, until Michael could get home. “We are hoping he can return to the U.S. in early September,” she says. “But, even them he will have to finish up his discharge duties and be quarantined at Fort Bliss (Texas) for another five to six weeks after that. 

“It’s definitely been a little more challenging than normal especially with COVID-19 and being the only caregiver in the household as well as also being an essential worker. I am used to my husband being gone 3-4 weeks at a time every year with the Army National Guard but this is longest we have ever been apart.”

One small challenge that had probably gone unnoticed before (or at least was easier to ignore)? The broken back patio door. “It was broken when we bought the house in 2015,” Marilena says. “Being first-time homebuyers and starting a family, we just didn’t have the means to fix or replace it… so we just didn’t use it. It was a hassle to get it open, so just easier to use the front door and go around. It was one of those ‘bucket list items’ that we just said…maybe someday.” 

Enter Renewal by Andersen…in a round-about way. Wanting Marilena to be able to use the door and give the kids easy access to the yard, Michael reached out to his friend Paul Grudzinski, who works in the construction and remodeling industry, to see if he could perhaps take a look at it and engineer a fix.

Grudzinski also happens to be an installation crew lead for Renewal by Andersen of the Carolinas. And, after looking at the door, he reached out to his boss. 

Sharon Sullivan is CEO of RbA of the Carolinas. “Paul gave me a quick call and explained the situation, and then asked if we would be interested in donating a new one to them. Of course I was honored to do so! Happy to help a military family—and this way the kids could easily get into their back yard…and mom can keep an eye on them.” 

RbA donated the door; Paul and his crew donated their time and labor, and together they replaced the Villardi’s slider. Says Marilena, “When my husband reached out to Paul, it was just to see if he’d be able to fix it. We had no idea that he and Renewal were going to work together to COMPLETELY replace the patio door. It was a complete surprise to us!”

And a good surprise at that. “I honestly never realized how excited I could get over a patio door…It’s amazing! It sounds so weird to say that a door has made my life so much easier, but it has. The kiddos have been more interested in the outdoors as well because of it. The genuine concern Renewal by Andersen showed my family was touching. They {Sullivan and others] personally took the time to visit during the replacement process and were so amazing.”

She continues, “A big thank you to them! And, if I can add, a huge shout out to all the military members overseas and in the states. They are the definition of ‘essential workers.’  I’m grateful to all the service members here in the states that have been helping during the COVID-19 crisis and have worked hard to keep us citizens safe and provide aid to those who have been afflicted. And to the other military families who have been waiting for their loved ones to return home, you’re not alone! We’re stronger than we think!”

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