Carbondale will be ‘Rockin’ for Mikey’
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE ” Carbondale resident Becky Young is a mighty grateful mom these days.
A divorced mother of two, she lives in a nice house in the middle of town, has a good job at the community relations office at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, and is living proof of the close-knit nature of the community in which she lives.
And, at some point in the near future, she will have one of her life’s most vexing puzzles solved through what she termed “random acts of kindness” by her friends and neighbors.
That’s when her eldest son, Michael Granbois, who was born with cerebral palsy and autism and needs 24-hour care, will move into an apartment created out of Young’s under-used two-car garage, and begin receiving full Medicaid benefits from the state.
The apartment is being built by Habitat For Humanity Roaring Fork Valley, with considerable volunteer help from tradesmen who hail from around the lower valley and have donated what Young termed “a phenomenal number of hours in my house,” performing everything from plumbing to electrical work. Help also came from a number of local businesses, which have donated materials for the project.
The work is being funded by a campaign to raise some $30,000, which will culminate with a communitywide party Saturday ” “Rockin’ for Mikey” ” scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Carbondale Fire House Training Center building.
Live music will be provided by Bobby Mason And His Band, which is in part made up of past members of Aspen rock legend Starwood.
There also will be food and drink supplied by community members and a silent auction at which buyers can find the usual assortment of gift certificates and products from local businesses as well as some personal items donated by community members.
The effort to create a home-next-to-home for Mikey was a longtime work in progress.
Young, who has lived in the valley since the early 1970s and was co-founder of The Roaring Fork Valley Journal, Carbondale’s weekly newspaper, realized some years ago that she was approaching an uncomfortable depth of exhaustion.
Michael, 24, qualifies for 100 percent Medicaid support and assistance, but only if he lives apart from his family, which in Colorado usually translates into placement in some kind of group-home setting. But that is something which Young and her ex-husband, Marc Granbois, who helps to care for Michael, always have been unwilling to do.
Young said Michael has for a decade or so been on a list, along with about 1,300 other Coloradans, to receive a package of complete state assistance. He has been receiving partial assistance while living at home, being cared for by his parents and with the help of local caretaker Stephanie Schilling.
But a couple of years ago, Young said, word came thorough that Michael’s case was about to reach eligibility status for 100 percent assistance, “and they asked what I was going to do about it,” she recalled.
Young, who is blessed (or, she would admit, perhaps cursed) with a high sense of self-reliance and independence, cast about frantically for some way to make her son eligible for state aid without placing him in a group home, but without much luck.
Last year, she said, a counselor advised her to set aside her self-reliant streak and seek help from friends.
“She said, stop trying to pretend you don’t live in this fabulous community where there are people to help you,” Young recalled.
So she did, which led to the formation of a loose coalition of local women taking on different aspects of the campaign ” arranging for items for the silent auction, shepherding the list of foods and beverages that would be needed for a benefit.
But it was not until one of those friends, local mortgage broker Peggy DeVilbiss, heard a Habitat for Humanity presentation at the Carbondale Rotary Club that the most critical help materialized.
DeVilbiss asked the group, which builds homes for families that need help, if they would consider taking on a remodel, and they agreed to do it.
Work began around Thanksgiving of 2007 and is nearing completion. The two bays of the garage will be Michael’s studio apartment, and upstairs are bed/bath quarters for a caretaker, “and that counts as living separately, in the state of Colorado,” Young declared.
The fundraising campaign is about two-thirds of the way to its goal of $30,000, DeVilbiss reported this week, and organizers are hoping the benefit Saturday will go a long way toward reaching that goal.
“I think it’s a dynamite community activity to help a longtime community member,” DeVilbiss said, “and I hope the whole community comes out for it.”
Young, who these days is possessed of what she called “a really big, fat, huge, gargantuan dose of gratitude,” said the project certainly is undervalued by the dollar figure attached to it.
“I suspect it would be four times that, had it not been for all those people” who came to her rescue, she said. “All kinds of people have been so incredibly generous.”
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