May 20 10:50 AM

Home miracle for Imlay natives

Family returns to Imlay to await results of generous home makeover

August 13, 2008
IMLAY CITY — Even families with typical challenges are having a tough time keeping up with the cost of living these days.

For Lori and Philip Snyder, whose family includes five children, including two with cerebral palsy, the challenges are compounded.

The couple began their family more than two decades ago when they adopted a son, Ethan, now 30, who Lori cared for at a Warren nursing home. Because the facility was about to lose its funding from the state, Lori wanted to ensure the best possible future for the child. She believed that meant Ethan would stay with her.

"Ethan was just a baby when I met him. He stole my heart," recalls Lori, who inititated the adoption process while still single.

Home makeover participants were amazed at the rainbow that appeared over the Snyder family home on the day they returned to their new digs.

Later, after Lori and Philip wed, they had their own biological children, including Halden, 19, Avery, 18, and Cass, 12, all of whom are healthy.

About a year ago, the couple took in yet another family member, Sarah, 27, a foster child who had been a victim of physical abuse.

Sarah's situation was brought to Lori's attention by a co-worker who thought the Snyders could provide for the young woman's emotional and physical needs.

"We just knew we were rescuing a young lady who needed help," says Lori. "When Ethan saw Sarah, he recognized her and hoped that she could come and live with us.

"Ethan doesn't ask for much in life, so when he does we try to make those things happen for him. It has been such a smooth transition having Sarah with us. She loves being with us, and we love having her."

However, the arrival of Sarah further stretched the family's economic means and its ability to accommodate needed improvements around the house.

Having lived in a larger, wheelchair-accessible home in Imlay City for several years, the couple opted to move to Roseville about 10 years ago to be near Lori's mother. Her father had recently died and her mother had suffered a traumatic brain injury, requiring considerable care.

Complicating matters was Philip's near-fatal car accident. Partially disabled after the accident, Phil finds it difficult to make the necessary repairs around the house— including updating the home's deteriorating wheelchair access ramp.

When members of Paradox Church in Roseville heard of the Snyders' plight, they decided to help out— making the family the recipient of its 2008 Home Makeover program.

Under the auspices of the Roseville Family Resources Network, Paradox volunteers and local contractors have been upgrading the family's home on Common Road; installing new wiring, plumbing, insulation and building a new wheelchair ramp.

Rodger Smith, Paradox Church outreach coordinator, said the church does a lot of work with the Family Resources Network. He added that the selection of the Snyder family was an easy decision.

"They were the first family we interviewed and we stopped right there," said Smith. "They are such a deserving family. All we had to do was meet Ethan and Sarah and the decision was made. They are so energetic and happy—and inspirational."

Because the end result of the home makeover was to be a surprise, the family needed to find temporary housing while the work was being completed. Lori says it was the family's joint decision to return to Imlay City during the construction process.

For Ethan, who graduated from Imlay City High School in 1997, and Halden and Avery, who had made friends in the community as youngsters, the return home was cathartic.

For the past week-and-a-half, the Snyders have been staying at the Imlay City Days Inn and cavorting around the community. The convenient accommodations afforded the family the chance to attend familiar activities like the 2008 Blueberry Festival and Eastern Michigan Fair.

"Everybody wanted to come back and spend the time in Imlay City," says Lori. "It is still like our hometown, and it was perfect timing to be here for the festival and the fair."

Home again

Fast forward to Monday, Aug. 11. After eight days and nights of sweat and toil, church and community volunteers finished the Snyder family's home makeover.

It was a joyful moment for all involved, said Paradox Church's Rodger Smith.

"When the family saw what had been accomplished, they just began crying with happiness," said Smith. "We put in six months of planning and raising money for this day, and it was all worth it.

"The most amazing thing was the rainbow that appeared over the Snyders' home on the day they returned," said Smith. "It was the clearest rainbow I've ever seen in my life."

For more information about Paradox Church or to make a donation, contact Rodger Smith at 586-759-1877 or go to:

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