Chesterfield business steps in to help homeowner after neighbors call 12 On Your Side

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 1:40 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2022 at 2:37 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Chesterfield homeowner is relieved and even more grateful to remain in her home for more than 30 years.

For 33 years, Valerie Devito has lived in her Brandermill home. In early 2022, her neighbors wrote letters asking for help with the power washing, painting and carpentry work her house required.

“She is like the rock of the neighborhood. Everybody knows her,” said Frank Ludvik. “She used to keep our dogs until her knees got hurt. She used to keep the kids sometimes. She makes a really good tuna casserole.”

Val Devito
Val Devito(NBC 12)

In recent years, she broke both her knees in a fall, making daily life more complicated. Val’s neighbors had been doing all they could to maintain the house, but the repairs were beyond the scope of what they could do. She had also been receiving violation notices from the Brandermill Community Association.

“We are looking to find a licensed, professional contractor who will repair or repaint her house at low cost or no cost,” explained Melissa Holly. “Val was the first person who introduced herself to me, and one of the first things she said was, ‘if you need anything from the store, just let me know.’”

Val first found out that her neighbors had reached out to 12 On Your Side when they let her read the letters mailed to the On Your Side Investigators.

In one of the letters, Patti Day-Terry describes how Val saved her husband Mark’s life. When Val had not seen Mark outside in a few days, she got concerned. Val worked with another neighbor to get into the home because no one had a key. The younger man broke into the house through an attic vent. He lowered himself into the home to find Mark. Mark had a stroke days before and was slumped over in a chair. Patti was already in the hospital at the time. Thankfully, he was able to get help. Patti wrote:

“Miraculously, Mark survived. He is in a wheelchair, but he is alive, thanks to Val. When I returned home from the hospital, Val came to my door with a hot meal. That is how she is!”

“I was humbled. A little embarrassed that people would take the time and effort to help an old disabled lady,” said Val.

After her story first aired in May 2022, local businesses started reaching out, willing to do the work. Val’s neighbors also created an online fundraiser to help pay for whatever work is needed.

Among the first companies to contact 12 On Your Side was 89 Paint. The company is owned by a husband and wife who were raised in the Brandermill community.

“We saw one of our neighbors was in need. We wanted to step in and support how we could,” explained 89 Paint owner Ethan Wirt.

Ethan and Susanne Wirt, owners of 89 Paint, with Val Devito
Ethan and Susanne Wirt, owners of 89 Paint, with Val Devito(NBC 12)

Ethan and Susanne Wirt are back living in the Brandermill community today, raising their family. The couple strives to help people in the community whenever they can.

“Construction supplies have been kind of crazy recently; there was a lot of effort to sort what we needed,” he explained. “We basically had to rebuild the entire chimney. When you take something off, you don’t know what is underneath. A lot of the framing had to be rebuilt, [as well as] trim, window trim. We went all the way around all four sides and repaired anything we found that could be a future problem.”

89 Paint also arranged for the home to be power washed and painted. The entire project took about 6 weeks.

“I love it. I am just proud of what we have done and super happy to meet such a nice person who deserves it,” said Susanne Wirt.

Val was amazed by the results.

“Just coming back and looking at the house, they did such a wonderful job fixing and repairing,” she said. “No more holes, no more buzzing bees in my woodwork. The paint, everything, it was like moving into a new home, and it is just the way I feel. It is new, and it is wonderful. My neighbors have always been good to me, very helpful and caring. I said I have been blessed. I will put it that way.”