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By Jim Timlick

Moving into a new home is a big moment in anybody’s life.

When Val moves into her new home this fall it will be a particularly momentous occasion. Val, who has been supported by Epic Opportunities’ Epic at Home service for the past 14 years, is one of three women who will share a new home in north Winnipeg that was recently purchased by the agency.

The 1,600-square foot bungalow is located in the Amber Trails neighbourhood and is completely wheelchair accessible. It features three bedrooms, a custom-built breakfast bar in the kitchen that is wheelchair height, a roll-in shower in the master bedroom, and washer and dryer units that are accessible from a wheelchair. The house is also easily accessible from a two-car garage and has a spacious, well-appointed deck and an adjacent screened-in patio area in the backyard.

“It’s going to be life-changing for Val,” says her dad Gary. “It’s going to make her life so much better. It will make it better for all of us.”

Accessibility was a key consideration when Epic Opportunities began searching for a new home for Val and her roommates, who have lived together for more than a decade.

Val suffered a serious stroke earlier this year and has required a wheelchair since, meaning she could no longer access her second floor bedroom in their old house. While the stroke was a “devastating” experience for Val and her family, she has done remarkably well in the months that followed.

“She’s adjusted so beautifully. She’s adjusted better than most people,” says her mom Cathy. “One of the first things she said when she came out of coma was ‘Believe in yourself’. And she has.”

One of the things Val is looking forward to most about moving into her new home is being able to use the deck and patio area to entertain family and friends. The previous home she shared with her roommates didn’t have a space where they could host such gatherings.

“The backyard is just beautiful,” her mom says of the new home.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Val is also eager to get out and explore her new neighbourhood. She’s particularly excited about the fact her new home is located a short distance from a neighbourhood park.

Epic Opportunities had already been searching for a new home for the three women for several months when it found the house in Amber Trails. Coordinator Carey Richards says it was good fortune that the house was already wheel-chair accessible due to the needs of its previous owner. That meant the agency didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to retrofit it.

Richards says one of the best features of the house is that while there is plenty of room for entertaining guests, its spacious design will provide each of the three women with plenty of space when they want to enjoy some quiet time by themselves.

The purchase of the new home in Amber Trails is also memorable for the Epic Opportunities Foundation, the primary fundraising arm of Epic Opportunities. It marks the second year in a row the foundation has provided the down payment for the purchase of a new home and plans to step up those efforts in the years to come.

Val’s mom and dad say they are appreciative of everything Epic Opportunities and its staff have done to support them and their daughter since they became involved with the agency. They first learned about it through a social worker and say Epic staff have done a “wonderful” job of supporting Val and asking for their family’s input.

“Staff at Epic are great and show that they really care about Val as they do with everybody,” Gary says. “They’re always there when you need them.”

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