CLEVELAND — It’s been a tough year. So much suffering on the news. But equally newsworthy is the desire to help, an unstoppable instinct in Northeast Ohio.
Last fall after viewers got a look at Laura Caso's Faces of COVID story on Ramath Warith, a Cleveland man whose wife died after delivering their baby son, they made it clear they wanted to help this single dad. They contributed thousands of dollars to the GoFundMe account set up for him, and donated diapers, books, toys for his toddler and infant sons.
And when we delivered those gifts to his home, unexpectedly it led to another outpouring of help.
Our cameras captured the fact that the home he owned was in need of repair. There was peeling paint. A sagging porch. Rotted wood.
That video we shot that day triggered an impromptu house makeover. As word spread, so many people came to his aid that it became normal for Ramath to leave for his bus driver job with a crowd of people he didn’t know on his front porch, pounding nails and painting away.
Immediately they said yes. In early December a crew from Local Unions 373 and 435 came to the home to repair Ramath’s front porch. Shoring it up in the unsteady places. Tightening up and reattaching hand rails on the porch and stairs.
Next came the painters. Jason Argo, owner of Argo Paint, came over to survey the job, bought all the paint needed and put together a volunteer team to scrape and paint.
The gifts kept flowing. Daniel Peek, owner of The Crooked Nail furniture company, crafted and donated a wooden bench and tray for the family. Turn the bench over and there’s a tribute etched in the wood to Ramath’s wife: Hugs from Heaven.
And the Miracle on East 128th Street continued with our WKYC co-workers swooping in to finish off the porch with holiday decorations. Taking care to stand 6 feet apart, we tied on garlands, wreaths and bows as the family stayed inside. We brought a welcoming sign, pillows for the bench, a new doormat.
When we rang the bell and invited the family outside to see the transformation, we wanted them to feel the holiday spirit. There was a smiling reindeer there, holding a basket of toys. A cookie tray, and hot chocolate. And we cheered to see Ramath coming outside as Santa. And the boys in their holiday wear too. Ramath sat on the renovated porch with his children and drank it all in. An unseasonably warm day for December, and an unusually warm feeling in our hearts.
And the story will continue. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades has pledged to paint the entire home in the spring, when the weather warms up. The kindnesses keep piling up for a husband whose loss touched many hearts.
Editor's Note: Below is the original story about Ramath and his family from October 7, 2020:
More from Laura Caso's Faces of COVID: