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Santa’s here, and he’s wearing a tool belt

Wednesday December 30, 2009

Swampscott Reporter - The Julien family of Danvers, hit hard by serious illness and the recession, is having an easier time this holiday season, thanks to help from three North Shore businesses. Former Salem resident Raymond Julien has multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, and has been unable to work for nearly four years.

Because Julien must use a wheelchair, he needed a more handicapped-accessible and barrier-free kitchen, which would allow him to perform tasks like using the sink or loading the dishwasher safely and comfortably.

Bob Bakst, owner of Dr. Fix-It General Contractors, operating out of Swampscott, and a aging-in-place specialist certified by the National Association of Home Builders, donated his time and materials to make it easier for Julien to get around the house and remain at home.

Dr. Fix-It installed a new sink, disposal, dishwasher and countertops, and provided other amenities within Ray’s easy reach, applying universal design standards that make everyday activities accessible to all, no matter what their abilities.

Bakst also arranged for a little extra help for Julien’s family, getting home-care providers Marblehead resident Steve McGuirk of Lynn-based North Shore Home Care Resources and Marblehead resident Rosaleen Doherty of Salem-based Right at Home to each provide five free visits. This month, Bakst is painting and installing kitchen-cabinet doors and providing additional new countertops.

Bakst originally heard about the Juliens’ situation through a notice in the Reporter about a fundraiser held last February at the Clifton Lutheran Church in Marblehead. He attended the fundraiser, and then visited the family at home to assess what he could do to help make the kitchen more functional for Julien.

Bakst, McGuirk and Doherty’s efforts to give back to their communities were aided by Marblehead benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Bakst is trained to provide supportive home-improvement services that promote independent living for seniors who want to stay in their homes and age positively with comfort, safety and dignity. As a fully insured, Massachusetts-licensed, full-service home improvement contractor and construction supervisor who has served North Shore and Greater Boston clients for 15 years, Bakst provides quality-of-life home-improvement and modification solutions that incorporate fall prevention and a “no barriers, no boundaries” approach.

Bakst’s solutions accommodate all types of mobility and sensory impairments to allow people to remain at home with help from community-based care, avoiding the expense of assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. Dr. Fix-It offers a home safety functioning audit and survey, and provides home modifications and accessories for clients experiencing progressive or abrupt and traumatic health-related conditions.