Bernie was born and raised in Olympia. He left high school early to work in various jobs before he found a career as a maintenance man at a Tacoma hotel. Bernie was good at his job and enjoyed his fellow employees and hotel guests.
Almost ten years ago, a spider bit Bernie’s right leg. The damage to his leg was so severe the limb had to be amputated and he lost his maintenance career. Two years after losing his right leg, his left leg was amputated due to blood clot complications. In addition to his amputations, Bernie has also suffered five heart attacks in the last 20 years. In his early 40s and fiercely independent, Bernie was now a double amputee, wheelchair bound, and having to rely on others for help. Fortunately for Bernie, his mother stepped in to care for him.
A family member located a single wide mobile home in Olympia that Bernie and Patricia could afford to buy but they couldn’t move in until a wheelchair ramp was built. They couldn’t afford to pay for a ramp. Bernie’s caseworker from Physicians Southwest reached out to Rebuilding Together Thurston County to see if the organization could help the family. With financial support from Washington State Employees Credit Union and dedicated community volunteers including the First United Methodist Church’s Men’s Group, a wheelchair ramp was built for Bernie on Thanksgiving weekend. Bernie and his mother were able to move into their new home on December 1st with the goal of being settled by Christmas.