I first met Mr. Mercadel a few months ago when I went out with our construction scout to survey the house. Mr. Mercadel and his dog, Jake, stood on the front porch waiting for us and graciously invited us inside. I had seen many of my clients' houses before. Most often they were mere shells in desperate need of a good scrubbing down. The odd thing about Mr. Mercadel's house, however, was that everything was almost right. The walls were up at least, but you could still see the seams in the sheet rock. The doors were hung, yet they swung the wrong way. The bathroom lacked interior walls and there was water puddling in the ceiling. The house was almost livable yet didn't quite make the mark. A contractor had been hired to work on Mr. Mercadel’s home, yet they took advantage of a very important characteristic of Mr. Mercadel - he cannot see.
Mr. Mercadel has been blind for more than thirty years, the result of being hit by a drunk driver while he was headed home one night. As I sorted through his important documents (all enclosed in braille labeled envelopes) I became furious at the contractor who had left his home undone. As I was driving Mr. Mercadel to his apartment that evening, I discussed the possibility of perusing legal action against the contractor. Mr. Mercadel explained, "I guess I could, but I have always been taught to turn the other cheek."
A month later I had the distinct honor of accompanying Mr. Mercadel to a performance of The Color Purple. The Broadway show had been touring around the country and raising money for homeowners like Mr. Mercadel along the way. We sat in the front row, right by the orchestra pit, and it was wonderful to see a smile on Mr. Mercadel's face.
Mr. Mercadel moved into his home three weeks ago thanks to the great volunteers from Christian Aid Ministries. Last week he had his Welcome Home Party along with nearly 250 volunteers. Through the crowd of people I noticed there was someone missing - his constant companion, Jake. He explained that he had to put Jake to sleep after the doctors had told him he was suffering from arthritis. He was sad, yet hopeful as always for a bright future, just like the city he loves.
Watch a video of Mr. Mercadel and Jake.