CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) – A Chesterfield neighborhood mailed several letters to 12 On Your Side, hoping a contractor might be willing to help 85-year-old Valerie DeVito.
Val, as she is known, has lived in the same Brandermill neighborhood for more than 30 years. Her home needs repairs, like painting, power washing and some carpentry repairs.
“She is like the rock of the neighborhood. Everybody knows her,” said Frank Ludvik. “She used to keep our dogs until her knees got hurt. She used to keep the kids sometimes. She makes a really good tuna casserole.”
Ludvik was emotional speaking on camera to NBC12 about Val. He says she is always willing to help someone in any way she can. In recent years, she broke both of her knees in a fall, making day-to-day life more complicated.
“It is good to give back to people; it creates a sense of worth for yourself. People really appreciate it, especially in this case,” he said.
Through the years, Ludvik and other neighbors have helped with cleaning gutters, painting inside, and even helping with roof repair. But the work needed on the home’s exterior is more than what neighbors can do. There is also pressure to repair the house coming from the Brandermill Community Association. Val has been sent at least seven violation letters telling her to address exterior issues.
“We are looking to find a licensed, professional contractor who will repair or repaint her house at low cost or no cost,” explained Melissa Holly. “Val was the first person who introduced herself to me, and one of the first things she said was, ‘if you need anything from the store, just let me know.’”
Holly says even after getting hurt, Val still offered to give food or cook for neighbors.
“I love [my neighbors]. They are my family. I told Cheryl [and Frank], they are my family, they are my best family, even though they are adopted. They are my best family,” Val explained.
Val first found out that her neighbors had reached out to 12 On Your Side when they let her read the letters mailed to the On Your Side Investigators. In one of the letters, Patti Day-Terry describes how Val saved her husband Mark’s life. When Val had not seen Mark outside in a few days, she got concerned. Val worked with another neighbor to get into the home because no one had a key. The younger man broke into the house through an attic vent. He lowered himself into the home to find Mark. Mark had a stroke days before and was slumped over in a chair. Patti was already in the hospital at the time. Thankfully, he was able to get help. Patti wrote:
“Miraculously, Mark survived. He is in a wheelchair, but he is alive, thanks to Val. When I returned home from the hospital, Val came to my door with a hot meal. That is how she is!”
“I was humbled. A little embarrassed that people would take the time and effort to help an old disabled lady,” said Val.
In June, Val will celebrate 33 years in the home she once shared with her late ex-husband.
“The woman we spoke to at BCA – she is very pleasant. She is willing to work with me, give me time to get these repairs taken care of. They are not going to violate me anymore,” she said.
Now that Val has been given time from the community association, neighbors hope to raise money and find a professional contractor to get the work done.
“This is my home. I hope my last home. I am very attached to it. I know it is bigger than I can take care of, but I don’t want to leave,” she explained,
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