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  • Jay Nuss and the Braintree Rotary Club spearhead fundraising effort to rehabilitate home for Crystal Evans and her daughter Sophie

    Published on May 5, 2022

    BRAINTREE :  Jay Nuss, principal of Jay Nuss Realty Group, LLC, (http://jaynussrealtygroup.com), and the Braintree Rotary Club are spearheading a community effort to create a “forever” home for two Braintree residents, the mother-and-daughter team of Crystal Evans and her daughter Sophie.

    There is a fundraising page set up to help in the effort: https://givebutter.com/crystal-sophie. Jay Nuss anticipates that the work will cost $100,000 and includes a new customized wheelchair-accessible ramp and rehabilitating the kitchen and bathroom to be accessible for Crystal’s wheelchair and ventilator.

    Donations to this fundraiser are tax-deductible and will be processed by Work Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that develops community-based programs to support people with disabilities.

    Jay said that there has been a significant volunteer effort from the community and other colleagues, especially members of the Braintree Rotary Club.   “We initially took on the project with the goal of designing and building a customized wheelchair ramp. There was a ramp that was no longer safe and has been removed from the house.”

    Crystal Evans is a disabilities advocate, mother, and survivor of traumatic brain and spinal injury and mitochondrial disease. Crystal uses a wheelchair and relies on a ventilator to breathe, yet she lives independently with her 11 year old daughter Sophie, who is autistic.

    Crystal was raised in a devout Christian family in New Hampshire; in high school she worked as a pharmacy technician and began college in the hopes of becoming a physician. At age 19 she was seriously injured in an auto accident. While stopped at a red light, Crystal’s car was struck by a distracted driver; she suffered a traumatic brain injury and broken neck. She spent the next four years in rehab but was unable to maintain her employment due to seizures and other impacts of her injuries.

    To get the medical care she needed, Crystal moved from New Hampshire to Boston. She moved for better public transportation and better health insurance. She still had no money for housing, though, and lived in 14 different shelters and on the streets, while fighting every day to get back the life she had lost.

    While homeless, Crystal managed to accomplish quite a bit to advance her cause and the cause of homeless and disabled people. She volunteered at Boston Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and Hospitality Homes. She enrolled in a class at Harvard University, and wrote a widely-read blog about homelessness. She attracted media coverage including the Boston Globe and other outlets.

    Crystal was also hospitalized with aseptic meningitis, but examinations revealed that she possessed a rare genetic condition known as mitochondrial disease which affects nearly every organ in the body. She has been dependent on a wheelchair ever since.

    Crystal eventually married and in 2010 gave birth to Sophie. Crystal is now a single mother and has full custody of Sophie. Sophie is a fiercely intelligent and curious sixth grader who loves books, science, dolls, and learning about social justice. Prior to the pandemic, Crystal and Sophie loved to explore Boston by subway.

    Jay explains, “Crystal and Sophie have been in the house since 2012.” Currently, there are issues with the kitchen and bathroom that Jay and his team plan to make accessible for Crystal.

    Professionals Sarah Welch DeMayo of Vibrancy Communications in Braintree and Candita Carlini, Publisher & Editor of Healthy Living Magazine and clinical psychotherapist at the Dana Group Associates in Hanover, have been immensely helpful to Jay in “getting the message out.” If you are interested in assisting, the team welcomes and encourages the community to take action. 

    Crystal’s limited wheelchair accessibility in her own home greatly limits her independence to perform simple daily activities of living. Crystal’s need to rely on others for simple tasks each day fuels the team’s ambition to make things right for her.

    “This is a perfect example of a village effort,” Jay commented. “We’ve worked on electrical issues, a new driveway, the ramp, and more. The Braintree Rotary Club has been very involved in the rehabilitation of the house. We are really looking to get people to step up and help us in this effort.” For anyone able to contribute, please visit https://givebutter.com/crystal-sophie

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