As our community know, every year, Above All Masonry Design awards one deserving Long Island homeowner a landscape makeover to help make their lives a little easier and more enjoyable.
When Ashley Ventimiglia, this year’s winner and mother of two, went to bed one Sunday evening, she could never have anticipated the five-year-long struggle she was about to endure.
Since August 2013, Ashley has suffered the debilitating effects and complications of a rare condition known as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The potentially fatal disease caused sepsis of Ashley’s organs and resulted in her spending three months in ICU.
After being intubated and put in a medically induced coma, Ashley’s body turned dark purple, almost black. While doctors fought to keep Ashley’s vital organs alive, a lack of blood circulation to her limbs caused severe damage to her extremities and doctors were forced to amputate several toes from each foot. This ordeal also resulted in scarring and severe damage to her forearm. Ashley’s injuries were followed by the psychological shock of facing this reality upon waking from her coma.
Ashley’s recovery from TSS has involved multiple surgeries, numerous complications and months of hospitalization – precious time away from her husband and two young children. She has also had to learn how to walk again.
After some lost battles, Ashley is winning the war against this condition. The surgeries have led to the point where she can enjoy a somewhat normal life. With a central line in her arm for medications and fluids, a feeding tube, and a 24-hour glucose monitor for diabetes, Ashley has found the strength to face the next challenge. She is set to undergo another follow-up surgery on her feet.
Ashley says the love for her two children, her mother, and her supportive husband has kept her alive. She has a strong wish to make up for the lost time with her family. When asked what keeps her moving forward, she says, “My kids… I have two babies, and I will fight for them”.
After hearing Ashley’s story, the Above All Masonry Design and Outdoor Living team, and the judges of the Welcome Home Project, chose Ashley as the winner of the 2017 Welcome Home Contest.
The Welcome Home Project was started in 2014 by Above All Masonry Design and Outdoor Living, a family-owned Long Island landscape design/build firm. The project is intended to help struggling Long Islanders improve their lives by awarding them with a beautiful, personalized outdoor space that better fits their needs and situation.
“We hear so many stories of returning veterans, people who are sick, families going through heartbreak, firefighters, social workers, police officers, volunteers – people who do so much and are going through so much – who aren’t able to find comfort and relaxation in their own home. Sometimes it’s a stoop that’s not wheelchair accessible, property damaged by a hurricane, or a backyard that young kids can’t play in. Whatever the situation, we want to turn these spaces into a place of refuge. We want to put the ‘Welcome’ back in ‘Welcome Home’ for these people,” says co-owner, Lisbeth Bono.
Ever since Lis first visited Ashley at her home, the determination of this young mother has stuck with her. Ashley told Lis, “I am alive, and I have my family to take care of … I am going to survive, and I’m going to raise them.
Now Ashley can finally watch her five and seven-year-old play in a brand new front yard, a space intended to be their healing, welcoming family sanctuary where they can create new and beautiful memories.
“This is something that we would have never been able to do. I am so grateful,” says Ashley. “Now people stop in front of our house and tell us all the time how beautiful it is. To have something like this be so wonderful and happen… I can’t thank everybody enough.”
With the help of their sponsors, the Above All Masonry team have completed the front yard of the Ventimiglia family home.
“This is actually the first year that we did a front versus a backyard. [The family] really thought that the front was … what they needed and [what was] making it harder to get in and out of the house,” adds Steven, who co-owns Above All Masonry together with his wife Lis.
“There are so many people going through so much, and it just feels really good to give back. And that’s where you find true happiness, being able to help others and to… give,” says Lis.
The renovation started with a full replacement of the old bay window, which was done with the help of the Woodland Contracting team and materials from East Islip Lumber. The team replaced the large, hazardous window with a smaller, more stable one that did not obstruct the use of the porch.
Walker Expert Painting LLC. provided paint for the window frames and house exterior, and Victorian Fence Inc. provided the new and improved PVC railing, which is perfect for the Ventimiglia family because it doesn’t require much maintenance.
The heavenly, Hydrangea tree and other lush plants provided by SiteOne Landscape Supply turned the home into a small paradise.
For the main part of the project, the driveway and walkway, the Above All team used pavers sponsored by Unilock. To add elegance to the front porch, the team used porcelain pavers, bullnose coping and veneer by MSI. All stone materials were delivered through Astro Masonry & Supply.
To top it all off, the home is illuminated thanks to the electrical services of Premier Electrical Solutions and a bistro set was graciously donated by another local company, Smithwest Service AAA Auto Repair.
In addition, Above All Masonry Design and Outdoor Living would like to thank Stone Classics by MGO, Kichler Lighting, DCS by Fisher and Paykel, SonArray by Sonance, The Garden Dept, Bissett Nursery Corporation and Halstead Design/Build Marketing for their help and sponsorship throughout the years.
A success is always to be celebrated and shared. The reveal party, with food courtesy of Gino’s of Nesconset and beverages sponsored by Sparkling Pointe, took place on the 13th of October where friends and sponsors gathered to congratulate Ashley and show their appreciation for the work done by joint forces of the community. The event guests included Ashley and her family, Lake Grove, NY Mayor, Robert Scottaline and his team, and many of this year’s Welcome Home Sponsors. The reveal party was the perfect ending to a heartfelt project.