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Elderly woman who lost her husband and home in one day ‘adopted’ by neighbor, gets old house rebuilt by community

In January 2021, Gean LeVar of Glendale, Arizona, went through the worst experience of her life. She lost her home and her husband of 58 years—all in one day.

When the police entered her home, they discovered such awful living conditions that they were forced to condemn the house. Worse, the widow had no children or family to turn to.

Gean’s neighbor, Carmen Silva, barely knew Gean when she learned about her plight. However, she didn’t see that as a reason not to help her in this great time of need.

“I told her, ‘Don’t worry Gean, we’re going to fix it,’” she told CBS News.

The Silvas live in a small three-bedroom house with eight children. But no matter how cramped they already were, they gladly made room for one more.

Carmen’s sons gave up their bed to sleep on the couch, so their new adopted grandmother will have a comfortable place to sleep.

“She looks very happy, and I believe it’s because she has a whole family now,” she said.

Some might say Carmen took being neighborly to the extreme, but she doesn’t see it that way.

“I’ve always taught my kids to take care of their elders,” she said.

Gean said her new family “means everything.”

CBS News shared Gean’s story on its official Facebook page, and many were touched by how the whole Silva family stepped up for their neighbor. Here are some of their comments:

“People who have less are always the most giving.”

“This is the best. I love the family and kids to gave up so much for this elderly person. They should get a new home to fit all the kids. God bless them.”

“This is what it’s all about. Compassion is a beautiful thing. Love thy neighbor as thyself!”

“One day, one person, one blessing at a time makes a better world!”

After the Silvas took her in, a nonprofit group called “Operating Enduring Gratitude,” which helps Arizona veterans and their families, heard about her story.

“There are resources in place that help the majority of veterans but there are some that fall through the gap. This one fell through the gap,” said Army veteran Charlie Ellis, the Founder and CEO of the organization.

Gean’s late husband, Thomas, was a Navy veteran who served two years in the Navy as a payload specialist, so volunteers went full speed to renovate the dilapidated house.

“He was always proud of his service,” said Gean.

Flags bordered the front lawn of Gean’s newly renovated house during the reveal. It took 18 months of hard work by close to 200 volunteers—including students, veterans, and those connected to the veteran community—to rebuild the house, which was built in the 1950s.

“We’re all joining together to do one thing, and that’s to make somebody’s life whole,” said one volunteer.

Gean walked through her rebuilt house with a big smile on her face. She said she is most excited about cooking in her new kitchen.

“Oh, I think it’s wonderful,” she said.

“We’ve modernized the electrical. We’ve got showers she can walk into. Fantastic,” Charlie said. “People that love on our veteran community all here today. To share in the love. Their time. Their generosity.”

Gean’s house is condemned no more, and she plans to share it with none other than the Silvas, who provided her with a home when she needed one.

You can learn more about Operation Enduring gratitude by visiting their website.

Click on the video below to learn more about this touching story.

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