Cody students getting new start at school and at home

Life Remodeled planning to renovate homes of 21 students as part of its Cody Rouge project

DETROIT – When students return to Cody High School this September, they'll benefit from new classrooms like the medical simulation lab and the leadership lab.

But Life Remodeled is transforming more than the school and the neighborhood -- some students will see a big difference at home too.

Life Remodeled chose 21 Cody High School students whose homes are in dire need of renovations and plan to update and renovate their homes for them and their families.

For Ebony Porter's family, a home renovation will change her quality of life.

Porter, 25, suffers from a kidney problem, battles diabetes, has a seizure disorder, and a history of strokes.

"Ebony has been in a wheelchair for 8 years," said her mother, Ruby. "Its a struggle every day to get her down the hall."

Porter has been in and out of the hospital practically her whole life.

"She has had 103 brain surgeries," said Ruby.

Porter's home is not wheelchair accessible. Her wheelchair cannot fit in the bathroom, or around the corners of her home. For eight years, Ruby Porter has been bathing her daughter with a bowl as her daughter lay in bed.

That will soon change. Life Remodeled found out about the Porter family, because  Ebony's younger cousin and caretaker attend Cody High School.

"They told me they are going to make it wheelchair accessible," said Ruby. "They were saying they may put a track so I can take her from one room to the next room."

Life Remodeled is also planning to fix the wheelchair ramp outside the Porters' home, renovate the bathroom, and make the hallways more wheelchair friendly.

This home remodel will give Porter a new sense of freedom and a chance at mobility, and for that she is grateful.

"I thank God every day that I am still here," said Ebony Porter.

Jimmie Knight and his family's home will also be renovated through Life Remodeled.

Knight is the football coach at Cody High School and his daughters attend the school.

Life Remodeled is coming into Knight's home, remodeling his bathroom, replacing his gutters, and insulating his walls.

"They are going to take care of all the front woodwork that is in the front and sides that is rotted out," said Knight.

But for Knight, this project is more than renovations to his home, it's about the transformation taking place within his community.

"To say how much it is helping out and how much people are beginning to believe in it they are actually coming out," said Knight. "Right now they are putting it together, to get a block club to clean up vacant houses."

This is a big undertaking, with 10,000 volunteers tackling the removal of 100 blocks of blight, renovating 21 student homes and transforming Cody High School.

"Houses that are right next door, torn down, boarded," said Kenyetta Campbell, the executive director for Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance. "To know we are going to have a brand new football field and the great things that are going on inside the school."

"I don't know if you can see it,  but I am on cloud nine," said Knight.

Just a few years ago, the graduation rate at Cody High School was 40 percent and now after a huge education reform, the rate is 80 percent.  

This renovation project is the neighborhood's chance to catch up.

"For the first time I think in education history the relationship between the schools and the community are seamless," said Johnathon Matthews, principal of Cody Academy of  Public Leadership.  

"I am so happy because when I come to school I can feel safe coming into the school," said Cody High School senior Brittany Agee.  

The students and residents of Cody Rouge will partner with the volunteers, and take to the streets of the Cody Rouge community,  knocking down and boarding up houses, and beautifying the neighborhood.
"I like to give back to my community," Cody High School senior Sema'j Mcpherson said.

"I think that this is going to make this high school great and the kids are going to want to come to school here," said OakPointe student volunteer Lizzie Cadicamo.
This week long project is more than boarding up buildings, it's about restoring hope to a community.

"This community is going to jump with excitement," said Knight.

The week long renovation begin Monday Aug. 11 and goes through Saturday Aug. 17.

You can still help Life Remodeled with this project.

Monday, Aug. 11 from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Local 4 will be opening a phone bank to take donations for this project.

If you would like to donate to this project, please call 313-298-WDIV or click here.