From house to home: Led by Re/Max, community helps fix up injured arborist’s new home | TheUnion.com

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From house to home: Led by Re/Max, community helps fix up injured arborist’s new home

Employees of a Grass Valley real estate office spent Saturday helping one family give their newly purchased fixer-upper a face lift.

The team at Re/Max organized a group of about 20 community volunteers, including workers from Acton Arboriculture, to trim trees, paint walls and pick up trash at the Alta Sierra home recently purchased by Peter and Kate Lance.

Peter Lance, 54, is a former arborist who was seriously injured in December 2013 after falling from a tree. He suffered a broken neck, which resulted in permanent reduced function and sensation in all of his limbs. Because of his injuries, Lance is generally confined to a wheelchair.

Lance said he was feeling overwhelmed by the community's effort to help improve the home.

“I’m grateful for sure, but on a personal level I struggle with understanding how I am worthy of this. I have to keep reminding myself, this is not just for me, it’s for my wife and two wonderful little girls.”homeowner Peter Lance

"I'm grateful for sure, but on a personal level I struggle with understanding how I am worthy of this," Lance said. "I have to keep reminding myself, this is not just for me, it's for my wife and two wonderful little girls."

The family of four has spent the last year and a half adjusting to life after his accident. He's still reliant on pain medication, Lance said, and spends most of his time at home or helping out in his daughters' classrooms at Grass Valley Charter School.

Kate has taken over many of the daily responsibilities he used to handle for the family, including the bulk of the driving and many of the household chores.

But throughout the changes, Lance said he and his wife never gave up on their dream of becoming homeowners after a lifetime of renting.

They applied for a loan assistance program through Nevada County, but were denied. That's when Jeanette Royal, a real estate agent at Re/Max, received a phone call from someone who worked for the county, asking if she could help. Royal worked with a broker at American Pacific Mortgage, who helped the Lance family secure a loan.

The house hunt began.

"We started looking and we looked and looked and looked," Royal said. "We kept getting beat out."

Royal got a lead on the Alta Sierra property, and sent Kate down to look at it. The Lances made an offer, and the house was theirs.

Royal said the potential of the property was strong, but she knew the house needed a lot of work to be what the family really needed.

There was no ramp for Peter's wheelchair, she said, and the owners had left behind a lot of debris on the property.

Royal said the Re/Max team and others in the community immediately rose to the occasion by organizing the volunteer day and signing up to participate.

"Once in awhile, these types of things come along. I knew a lot of people would want to help if they knew about it," Royal said.

Peter and Kate Lance are already brainstorming ways to turn their new house into a home.

The couple said they're excited to get paint up on the walls — their daughters will help choose the colors — and Peter is especially excited to redo the floors.

The experience is slightly bittersweet for Peter. Because of his injury, he won't be able to put the physical work into his first house that he always thought he would. But that emotion is outweighed by the pride he feels in the purchase.

"There's a lot to look forward to," Lance said. "I might not do all the work, but Kate and I shared this dream of home ownership, and it's going to happen now, and we're excited about it."

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email elavin@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.