GOSHEN — After a rough few years, Ronda Fisel’s house is becoming a home.
About three years ago, Fisel had complications during a pregnancy with her son, Mason, who was born a month early and weighed only 4.4 pounds. Her eyesight worsened, and around this time last year, she was legally blind, unable to work and raising her son at their house south of downtown Goshen.
“Financially, everything was a mess,” she said. “The house was a mess. Everything was a mess.”
Fisel had eye surgery in August to correct her vision problems, and when she came home for the first time, she couldn’t help but notice the deterioration of her house.
Fisel started taking personal finance classes at LaCasa Inc. to learn how to better manage money and rebuild her savings. There, she was encouraged to fill out applications for assistance, including LaCasa’s Help-a-House program that uses volunteers to make fix up homes in Goshen for people who are unable to afford to pay for repairs or work on their houses themselves. She also qualified for Elkhart County’s lead abatement program that will help pay to remove hazardous lead-based paint from her home.
“I started filling out applications for everything,” Fisel said. “I had all kinds of stuff up in the air, and it looked hopeless for me.”
Things started looking up this year when LaCasa agreed to help Fisel catch up on house payments and assist with home insurance.
“I had multiple people fighting for me, working many hours just to help,” she said.
A team of 20 volunteers visited Fisel’s house earlier this month for LaCasa’s annual Help-a-House day. They repaired her roof, helped with landscaping her yard and cleaned up her basement.
“The volunteers were just amazing,” she said, adding that 3-year-old Mason also had fun that day. “Jeremy Stutsman, the city councilman, brought him a little tool belt and goggles, so he was just pumped. They also gave him flowers to give me since it was the Saturday before Mother’s Day, which is awesome.”
Bonnie Martin, LaCasa’s vice president of development, credits Fisel with doing all the necessary footwork to help all the pieces fall into place to save her home.
“She really has a story that is incredible, all that she’s gone through,” Martin said. “Now, she seems so strong and excited about the future, and it is really what makes doing the work that we do worthwhile and wonderful — to be partnering with people like her.”
Fisel said she is grateful for everyone who has helped her get back on her feet.
“They started a process that is going to help me and my son for his future,” said Fisel, who is the fourth generation in her family to own her house. “I went from being pretty broken and messed up to having a healthier family home for him.”
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.