James Shaljian of Mount Sinai was suffering the effects of Hodgkin's lymphoma and had been unable to make needed repairs on his house, which became filled with mold and mildew that doctors said was bad for his recovery.
Shaljian, his wife and their four daughters were hoping ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" program would come to their rescue.
But last summer, the Shaljians wound up as runners-up to another family in Setauket.
Newsday reported last October that Long Island builders and business people would come to the family's aid, and they have. In the past few months three contractors, a retailer and other workmen have knocked down the Shaljians' home and put in a new foundation, and they will soon complete the job to allow the family to move back in, possibly within a few months.
"When all is said and done, it's a $350,000 project that will be done mostly on donations" from the contractors and through private contributions, said Tony Fragoletti, of Fragoletti Builders Inc. in Mount Sinai, one of the three companies that helped rebuild the home.
Fragoletti and the three other contractors -- John Coles Williams of Coles Contracting in Mount Sinai, and Phil DeBlasio and Brian Capo of DeCapo Design Build of St. James -- have gone a step further. They formed a nonprofit, Building Hope for Long Island, which aims to help other homeowners in distress in the coming years.
"We want to see next year if we can help a family with a new roof or [in need of a] ramp," said Williams. Four Seasons Sunrooms of Holtsville donated $18,000 worth of energy-saving windows. "It's a great cause," said company marketing director Peter Allen. And Mike Burridge, owner of Bagels Your Way in Mount Sinai, helped raise money. "This is what life is all about," Burridge said.
The Shaljian family has been living in a rented house in Mount Sinai during the rebuilding. Last year Shaljian lived in a 22-by-14-foot cottage in the backyard of his home, to avoid the mold and mildew, while his wife and daughters lived in the house.
They are looking forward to going home, together, for good.
"It's unbelievable," he said of the work being done on his home. "We feel completely blessed."