Jonah Tafoya is 15 years old. He uses a wheelchair as a result of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive degenerative disorder that primarily effects boys.
HBF brought the project to Toll Brothers, according to Brian Johnson, construction director for the organization.
“We don’t know if it’s asking too much to do an addition,” Johnson said at the ceremony, but “these guys said, ‘No, we got it.'”
“The decision was whether or not we were going to try to do a lift and put Jonah in his basement, or build out the garage,” Matt Foran, senior project manager for Toll Brothers, said. “We decided building out the garage would be the best option and was feasible, and worked out better for the family.”
Jonah’s mother, Gloria, described the impact the project has had on her family.
“My husband works during the weekend, so I’m home with Jonah by myself and I do a lot of the heavy lifting, lifting from the chair up to the stair lift,” she said. “Now it’s just easier for me, for him. He’s more independent. It’s changed our life.”
Although Toll Brothers joined the project early, Foran said, getting approvals to actually get started took some time.
“In this day and age, cities and municipalities have to be very diligent in their reviews,” he said. “The cities, unfortunately, are extremely backed up because of the amount of building that’s going on. So it took us probably three months or better—I’m just going off memory—to get through that process in order to get a permit to proceed with the building.”
Foran acknowledged the extraordinary contributions of Toll Brothers’ trade partners in getting the job done.
“It’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of effort, it’s a lot of money,” he said. “It can be a burden on them because they also have obligations to a bunch of screaming CMs that are telling them, ‘Hey, you need to get our get our stuff done.'”
He highlighted Wes Christensen, assistant project manager at Toll Brothers, who took the lead on the project.
“It’s been really cool just to see how impactful it’s been for the family,” Christensen said. “My brother was sick for a while as well, and couldn’t really walk … so being able to help out and get to a spot where it’s accessible and easy for [Jonah] was rewarding.”
All in on giving back
Jonah’s project was the biggest one that Toll Brothers has undertaken for HBF this year, but is just one of five that the builder expects to complete with the organization, according to Foran.
Earlier this year, Toll Brothers built an accessible bathroom for a Vietnam veteran with ALS and a ramp for a woman with multiple sclerosis.
The three completed projects were valued at $30,000, which the families didn’t have to pay thanks to contributions and the HBF’s support.
“It’s a phenomenal foundation,” Foran said of the HBF. “They have a much broader market of people that they can reach out to, to find the right candidates. We just don’t really have that ability.”
He added, “It’s a great way to use what we do on a day to day basis and put it to use for a really good cause.