Doug’s Grateful Heart

Doug’s Grateful Heart

Posted on October 29, 2020

As Amy Collette once said, “Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” And that’s exactly how Doug Berard lives his life. Originally from North Fork, and a current resident of Fresno, Doug celebrates his newly rehabilitated bathroom thanks to the help of Self-Help Enterprises.

As he sits on his front porch with his furry companions, Doug, now in his sixties, happily reminisces about his younger days. Unbeknownst to many, young Doug lived a thrilling life as a Hollywood model, actor and dancer. “When volunteering at a baseball game, I met a woman who was a rep for a model agency.  Right then and there, she asked if I could go with her to Las Vegas to represent

her agency for a talent and modeling competition.” Doug not only won the competition but he was catapulted into a flourishing career in entertainment. “My life became very fast-paced, and for someone from North Fork, it was a big change. But I was grateful for it all.” Doug went on to work as an actor and did small parts for nine movies. He was even part of a dating show where he met his then girlfriend. But then life took an unexpected turn.

In 1987 on his way to announce his engagement, he got into a motorcycle accident that left him severely injured and in a coma for five days. While unconscious, Doug experienced what many would call a ‘holy’ encounter. “God told me it wasn’t my time to die. He had things for me to do. He specifically told me to make sure they don’t take my legs. When I woke up, the first thing they said was that I would never walk again. The doctor wanted to amputate my legs.” Doug didn’t let the doctors proceed with the amputation and three months later, he was walking with crutches.

But things were different for Doug. He was forced to slow down and move back to the Central Valley where he would continue to live his life, now permanently disabled. And though he could no longer live the Hollywood life, Doug was grateful for a second chance. “My purpose is to shine as bright as I can and give my testimony.”

Today, Doug continues to go through life spreading nothing but love and kindness, inspiring even strangers along the way. Through the years, however, it became challenging to upkeep his home. He first learned of Self-Help Enterprises through Resources for Independence Central Valley and connected with SHE’s Rehabilitation Team.

“When I met with Mr. Berard to sign documents, he was very grateful for the help he was receiving from SHE to get his bathroom accommodated to his needs,” said Patty Garcia, Loan Processor for SHE’s Housing Rehabilitation Program. “He said that with his fixed income it was impossible to get the ADA accommodations he needed. He received some donations from very generous people, but it was going to take him a really long time to raise the money he needed for the modifications.”

SHE’s Rehabilitation Team worked to convert and expand Doug’s old bathroom into a full handicap (HC) accessible bathroom complete with a large HC accessible shower and a sliding barn door for easy entry. Through partnerships with cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley, SHE works with local community leaders to identify housing needs, secure funding, and successfully implement housing repair efforts for residents.

“Everyone was very nice to work with, I am grateful I found the program,” said Doug.

Deferred payment loans available to qualified homeowners for essential health and safety repairs typically include roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, foundation, windows, and handicap accessible modifications. There is no monthly payment. The loan is due and payable upon sale, change of title or change of use – such as change from owner occupied to renter occupied. Housing rehabilitation assistance can meet a critical need for homeowners who lack the funds to make necessary physical health and safety improvements to their homes. To date, SHE’s assistance to local communities has resulted in over 6,700 rehabilitated homes.

Everyone at SHE wishes Doug continued blessings. May he continue to inspire us all to live a more grateful life.


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