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'Downriver and Friends' Facebook members overwhelmed mom, daughter with help after raw sewage backup

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-10 16:42:19-04

DETROIT (WXYZ)  — When raw sewage backed up into the home Sonya Cook lives with her daughter, Naia, she knew it was nothing she could even attempt to clean up on her own, but she didn't have the money to hire a professional.

"I know how mold can affect you," said Sonya, who is on disability because of a number of health issues. "My neighbors tried to help me as much as they could."

Sonya takes every precaution when it comes to her health because of an amazing gift she received 16 years ago when the parents of a girl who died from the flu donated their daughter's kidneys through Gift of Life.

"She was two-years-old when she passed away and I promised her mother, when I met her, that I would always do everything in my ability to take care of my kidneys," Cook told 7 Action News.

Sonya couldn't find anyone to help when her daughter, 18-year-old Naia, urged her to start a GoFundMe page.

"I'm not a social social media person," she said. "If it was not for Naia, I probably never would have reached out."

Naia is a student at Southgate Anderson High School. She has special needs and it was her resource teacher who saw Naia's mom was trying to raise money to clean up the mess that had made their home unlivable.

Sonya and Naia didn't know Bryon Rocz, but his wife saw the resource teacher's post on the Facebook page for Southgate Titans Parents.

Bryon's wife knew he was busy with work as the owner of Father & Son Restoration in Taylor, but she also knows his heart and that he'd want to help.

"Anyone know how I can get in touch with the family tomorrow please?" he asked in the comments.

And the next day, Bryon was at Sonya and Naia's home that had become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

It was bad. And Bryon knew he needed an HVAC contractor fast, so he put a post on the Downriver and Friends Facebook page.

"We are donating all of our services but we need help on the HVAC front," he wrote. "We will probably need a new hot water tank, not sure on the furnace. I will come up with funds for the units if needed."

And within 30 minutes, Michael Kelly had arrived.

"He actually replaced the circuit board, went through everything, and got it running. And then that allowed us to get our environmental stabilization equipment in here - start getting conditions down to prevent further damage," Bryon said.

And Kelly wasn't the only contractor who jumped in to help. Gordon Becker from A-1 Drain Doctor and Quint Plumbing also donated their services.

And all of the support from the contractors and other strangers that began pouring in have left Sonya and Naia full of gratitude.

"It is a feeling that I cannot describe," Sonya told 7 Action News Friday.

"It's amazing!" Naia said.

"That's what it is," her mom replied. "It's amazing."

For several days now, the contractors have been busy inside the home with everything from sewage removal and mold remediation to furnace work and plumbing repairs - repairs Sonya had no idea were needed, but contractors found a break in a pipe under the foundation. Next week, crews will break through the concrete to make the repairs.

"When you have someone in need, you just got to step up and help out," Bryon said. "That's what I love about our community. People have been amazing."

The non-profit organization R.A.I.N.A. (Reaching All In Need of Assistance) took to social media to raise money and collect gift cards for the mother and daughter so they can continue their stay at a nearby hotel and buy food and gas.

"It breaks my heart to know what they're going through and to hear her story," said R.A.I.N.A. founder Carrie Cox. "It's so sad but I sleep better at night knowing that there's good people out there that want to come forward and help people like Sonya and her daughter Naia."

Cox said any money not spent on the hotel stay will be used to help with Sonya's DTE bill.

"I cannot thank the community enough. Those that I know, those that I don't know, for their prayers, their support, their well wishes, and their donations," Sonya said.

"I will never ever be able to repay them, but I do thank God from the depths of my soul for them."