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It takes an extraordinary village

It takes an extraordinary village
By Carole Townsend
Staff Correspondent

(Dacula, GA 9/12/2015) – Saturday morning dawned cloudy and a bit breezy, one of those early harbingers of fall that summer-weary Georgians welcome with open arms. At the Dacula home of David and Cindy Martinez, however, dozens of people hardly noticed the cooler weather; the home, both inside and out, was abuzz with hard work and intense purpose.

IMG 57031190(Pictured Left) David Martinez, himself hard at work on his home, could barely contain his smile as he told the story of the rehabilitation of his home.

David’s wife Cindy, hospitalized since May, will be coming home in what he hopes will be a month or less, and there is still much to do. As he walked from the inside of his house, out the front door and around to the back yard, he greeted friends, neighbors, co-workers and church volunteers at every turn.

m190I just can’t believe all of this,” David said as he watched workers smoothing wet concrete across the width of his entire house in the back yard. “I didn’t ask any of these people for help, but here they are. That really means a lot.”

In May of this year, Cindy Martinez was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria. Until recently she was being treated at Gwinnett Medical Center. Following the amputation of both feet above the ankles, her right hand above the wrist and some of the fingers at the first joint on her left hand, the wife, mother and courageous Marine has been moved to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta now that her wounds are nearly healed. a190

“We have no idea how she got (the bacteria),” David said as he spoke of his wife’s grueling journey, “but the Cindy I know is still there, even after all this. Her state of mind and her emotional strength, are still Cindy. She is determined to get better.” A former Marine like her husband (they met in the Corps and married soon after), Cindy is healthy and strong. Physicians are still baffled as to how the bacteria entered her body.

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Once neighbors and co-workers heard what the young couple (with their two young children, ages 2 and 6) were facing, wheels were set in motion. Men and women rolled up their sleeves and got to work, nearly finished with what David calls Phase I of the sweeping renovation of the family’s home.

DSC 1055 190Doorways have been cut wider to accommodate the wheelchair that Cindy will sometimes use once she gets home. Bathrooms have been remodeled. The upstairs hallway has been widened. Levered door handles will be installed on all the new doors in the house.

IMG 5706 190An elevator will be installed, which will give Cindy access to all three levels of the home. A wheelchair lift is being built in the garage, so that Cindy will be able to move smoothly from the family van onto the lift and into the main level of the house. Though the original laundry room was sacrificed to make room for the lift, two more of them will be installed elsewhere in the house. Smooth (either tile or hardwood) floors will be installed throughout the entire house, allowing easy wheelchair access .

b440 David Martinez (far right) with some of the volunteers
who helped donate time and resources for Cindy’s homecoming.

“Without all of these people, my wife would not have a house to come home to,” David said. 

lunch 190At about noon on Saturday, the dozens of workers at the Martinez house took a short break to eat a hearty lunch supplied by friends and neighbors. Mark and Dana Brooks, neighbors of the Martinez family, have been instrumental in coordinating both work efforts and meal breaks. Mark owns BRI, Inc., a utility contracting company, and he has provided both materials and labor for the remarkable transition taking place in the Martinez home. Burt Palmer, another neighbor, was the first person to approach David when he heard the news about Cindy’s illness. 

“I told him I didn’t have anything lined up, nothing at all,” David said. “That was all I had to say.”

Still another neighbor supplied all of the framing materials needed throughout the house.

dump440General Contractor Jim Poe overseeing constructionGeneral contractor Jim Poe is overseeing much of the remodeling, as well as providing trailers for hauling dirt, hauling away debris and transporting wood and other materials. “We’re getting all of this work downstairs done first, so that when Cindy gets home, this area will be clean,” Poe said. “We can continue the work upstairs once she gets home.

inside 190David, hard at work himself on Saturday, stopped every now and then to answer a question from a worker, or to give reporters a few minutes of his time. Even with all the activity, questions, decisions and changes swirling around him, he laughed and said, “The real boss isn’t here yet (referring to his wife). All I know is that she said I had better get the paint color right, or we’d be re-painting.”

Even with all of the generosity the Martinez family has already experienced, there is still much to be done. “We are working now with a supplier to see if we can get some more materials donated, and hopefully get some help with more manpower,” said David, a former marine who is now a Gwinnett County SWAT officer. 

wheelbarrell 440
Detective Matt Kenck, also on site Saturday working on the Martinez home, said, “I used to work with David when he was a detective. He needed help. I’m able, so I’m here.” Kenck smiled as he recounted the efforts of the SWAT team when they learned that their brother on the team needed help. “So many officers wanted to help, I actually had to tell them to stop after a while. There was too much food.”

markbrooks 190Brooks, a member of 12Stone Church, knew just who to call when he saw how much help the Martinez home remodel would require. “When I need to move a mountain, I call these guys every time,” Brooks said, referring to the men and women on the parking team at the nine-campus Gwinnett County church. “All I have to do is ask, and they’re there.”

Though a lot of projects were complete at the end of the workday this past Saturday, there is still much to do. Still, David is grateful and happy, that happiness coming from the knowledge that his wife will be home soon, his family will be together again, and that so many in the community have made that homecoming possible.

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walkway 190Looking around, as men moved wheelbarrows loaded with concrete and rock here, smoothed concrete there, and still others reviewed project plans inside, David smiled and said of his wife, “She is strong and happy, and she is ready to take what comes next and figure this out.”

“All of this is for her.”

To learn more about the Martinez family’s needs and the progress of the home’s transformation, or to learn how to help with manpower or donations, visit or check out the photos of the progression of the day please visit: