Kind South Floridians help young woman taking care of ailing father

(WSVN) - From the time she was 12, she cooked, cleaned and cared for her sick father while also going to school. Then the State of Florida wanted to take the family home away. That’s when she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser, and several amazing South Floridians stepped in remarkable acts of kindness.

If your child thinks their life is tough, tell them about Suzanne Swasey.

Suzanne Swasey: “That’s when it kind of threw me off.”

When she was 12, her father Vernon developed Alzheimer’s.

Suzanne Swasey: “I’d cook and then make sure he eats, and I also had homework, and then I wouldn’t go to sleep until about 2 in the morning.”

Despite spending her high school years cooking and caring for her father, Suzanne graduated near the top of her high school class. She started college while also working to pay the bills.

Suzanne Swasey: “And then I paid for the house as well, the mortgage, lights, water.”

When Suzanne’s father wandered away from home, the state said he needed to be in an assisted living facility — and they sent attorneys to court to see if they could sell the family home to pay for Vernon’s care.

Judge Mark Speiser: “I’m not going to have the hearing today. I’m going to give her an additional time for her to get an attorney.”

That’s when we asked Alan Cohn from Greenspoon Marder to represent Suzanne for free.

Alan Cohn, Greenspoon Marder LLC: “It sounded to me like there was a lot of people against one young girl. She wasn’t being double-teamed but triple-teamed, quadruple-teamed, so I felt she needed somebody to help her.”

Alan convinced the court to allow Suzanne to stay in the house for a while with the agreement she could get liability insurance for the property.

But then she could not because the roof was bad.

Ariel Istueta, Istueta Roofing: “She’s at risk of losing her home to the state, and we don’t want that to happen.”

When Ariel Istueta from Istueta Roofing heard Suzanne would lose the house, he contacted us.

Ariel Istueta: “We saw the story on the news with Help Me Howard, and this is something that we’re willing to do for her at no cost to her, for free.”

Not only did Ariel fix the roof for free. When he discovered there were electrical problems, he paid to have those repaired.

Ariel Istueta: “We just knew that we had to help her.”

And while Alan was making sure Suzanne could keep her father’s house, Vernon developed cancer and passed away.

Suzanne Swasey: “Yes, I miss him, but at the same time, instead of moping around, I felt I’ve done everything I could in terms of my dad.”

And the generosity continued. When we contacted Bell’s Funeral Home, they took care of Vernon.

Suzanne Swasey: “The funeral home director, he was willing to drop the charges of the cremation process.”

If there is a good side to Vernon’s passing, it ended the state’s attempt to try to take the house from Suzanne.

Alan Cohn: “Obviously, after a person dies, the guardianship, which is what we were doing all this time, comes to an end. The home will pass to the heirs because he didn’t have a will.”

Suzanne no longer has to be worried about losing her family home, and she can focus on her future, thanks to so many wonderful people.

Suzanne Swasey: “I would like to thank Ariel the roofer, as well as Alan, my attorney. I would like to thank Help Me Howard for just basically bringing everyone else in.”

Several people did so much for Suzanne because they cared so much.

Ariel Istueta: “I just hope this inspires other people to give to others, to donate. We need to help each other out when we’re in difficult situations.”

Wonderful people like Ariel and Alan and the funeral home generously did step up to help. Suzanne took care of her father for years, and then South Floridians took care of her. Thank you so much.

Don’t have the heart to fight a problem anymore? Need a helping hand? Kindly let us step in. We’re generous with our time ’cause it’s free to you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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