Washington family recipients of $20,000 through First Bank’s “Dream It. Do It.” campaign
Published 11:24 pm Monday, December 11, 2017
SUGGESTED HEADLINE: DREAM IT. DO IT.
SURPRISE: The Adams family — (left to right) Ken, Jamie, Jessica and Kelly Adams— along with friends and family were thrilled last week when First Bank representatives showed up to their Washington home to present a $20,000 check for modifications to their home. The money comes through First Bank’s “Dream It. Do It.” campaign.
By VAIL STEWART RUMLEY
Washington Daily News
A Washington girl will get what many teenagers yearn for: a bedroom and bathroom of her own and the privacy that comes with them.
This 13-year-old, however, will get that independence courtesy of First Bank’s “Dream It. Do It.” campaign, a yearlong campaign in which the bank will award $100,000 to deserving individuals to help them realize their dreams.
The Adams family — Jamie Adams, a seventh-grader at Montessori Public Charter School, along with mom Jessica, dad Ken and sister Kelly — was one of two recipients of the second round of “Dream It. Do It.” awards. With the $20,000 they receive, they’ll be making life-changing renovations to their Wellesley Road home.
The renovations will be especially life-changing for Jamie. Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare neuromuscular disorder, at 3 years old, Jamie has been in a wheelchair since the age of 5. At the Adams’ home, there are no downstairs bedrooms, so once Jamie heads upstairs on a motorized chairlift, she’s had to rely on her family to carry her and do simple chores for her. Not so anymore. With $20,000, they’ll be able to get a head start on a $63,000 project that’s been a long time in the planning.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Jessica Adams.
They’d already saved money and raised more through a GoFundMe account; an uncle in Connecticut held a fundraiser at his church and donated to the cause. They’d sought help from Medicaid, but when Jessica Adams heard about the “Dream It. Do It” campaign, she’d exhausted those efforts to find funding through a Medicaid waiver program for children with disabilities. Though the family qualified for help with building a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, there was a sticking point: existing space. Medicaid would pay for renovation, but not adding on to a home. They were turned down. Jessica Adams went through the appeals process, but until the Adams had the foundation poured and wall enclosed, Medicaid couldn’t help them.
Ken Adams, a carpentry teacher at Washington High School, said he’d been ready to start the project himself.
“I’d sort of resigned myself to building it on my own; digging the foundation, pouring concrete,” Ken Adams said.
Now, the $20,000 from First Bank will take care of phase I of the project: adding the square footage for a bedroom and bathroom. Phase 2 will be electrical, HVAC and plumbing, and phase 3 will be the wheelchair-accessible bathroom.
“This paves the way for that all to happen,” Jessica Adams said.
And Jamie? She’s excited, in an understated way. In between bouts of shyness, her dry sense of humor peaks through when she talks about looking forward to privacy and being able to read into all hours of the night. The announcement and project to come are still a bit overwhelming — in a good way. Her first reaction to finding out that “Dream It. Do It.” would launch the long-awaited project: “I was like, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great if it happened?’ to ‘Wait, okay, it’s actually going to happen,’” Jamie said.
The chances were 1 in more than 2,500 that the Adams family would win the prize: so far, First Bank has fielded more than 2,500 entries from more than 200 cities and towns across the Carolinas.
“The ‘Dream It. Do It.’ contest submissions have all been inspiring. We have received so many heartwarming entries from hopeful dreamers, their friends and their loved ones,” Michael Mayer, president and CEO of First Bank, stated in a press release. “It is incredibly gratifying, not just to me, but to the entire First Bank team, to play a small part in giving back to those who inspire their families and communities each and every day.”
In Washington, First Bank Senior Vice President and Area Executive William Taylor said he was thrilled that a local family is one of the recipients of the campaign.
“(Jessica Adams) wrote a very compelling story about they had some funds to do this, just not enough funds,” Taylor said.
An excerpt from Jessica Adams’ application reads: “Jamie is the most independent kid in the world, but is unable to wash her hands in her own home without assistance. Our house has now become Jamie’s biggest obstacle in her independence. We have been able to work through about half the funding, but the remaining has been a struggle.”
They expect to be breaking ground for Jamie’s independence-to-come after the first of the new year.
As for First Bank stepping in to help, the Adams family could not be more grateful.
“This is really going to get the ball rolling,” Ken Adams said. “We’re so appreciative of what First Bank has done with the program and just happy to be one of the recipients. It’s nice to see it happening locally. It’s a great thing to see, from a community-building standpoint.”
To donate to the Jamie’s GoFundMe account, started by Jessica Adams’ sister, Kate Whitfield, visit www.gofundme.com/jamies-home-modification-fund.