Conjoined Twins' Housing Project in Danger

Conjoined TwinsA lack of donor funding is jeopardizing plans for a Dayton, Ohio home being built for the Guinness Book of World Record's oldest living conjoined twins, reports the Dayton Daily News.

"We have empty hands that are willing to work, but we need materials to put in their hands," says Pete Andrews, the founder and president of Christian Youth Corps Inc., a Machias, NY-based charity overseeing the effort.

Since the project's January announcement, only $1,000 out of the $30,000 fundraising goal has been raised to remodel and add-on to a home for the 58-year-old twins, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon. The twins' abnormal growth patterns are causing more discomfort as they age and they are in need of drastic home improvements to continue living independently.

More than 200 volunteers are committed to helping renovate the home and local companies have donated custom medical equipment that the twins have been unable to acquire through Medicaid, including a $16,000, two-person wheelchair and a custom bed to allow the twins to recline while they sleep.

But according to Andrews, at least $10,000-$15,000 is needed over the course of the next month to progress on the home's life-changing redesign. The plans include an open-floor plan with three-and-a-half feet wide doors to allow the twins to fit through the entryways to each room; exercise pulleys for mobility and improving blood circulation; and a ceiling rail system to provide a way for them to move seamlessly throughout their new residence.

The addition of a new garage, which will fit the twins' van and is connected to the house, will also enable the Galyons to leave and return to the house easily and without the use of outdoor ramps.

While the housing project is trying to thrive in Dayton, a mid-size Midwestern city hit hard by the struggling automotive industry during the recession, it highlights the financial woes of nonprofits across the U.S. that have been unable to reign in cash donations.

There's been little improvement in the amount of national charitable giving despite positive economic signs pointing toward a recovery, says a January study by The Barna Group. In the past three months, nearly half of the adults surveyed by the research company say they've cut back on donations to nonprofits.

In Dayton, the Galyons' housing project is certainly feeling the pain as local donors are giving "$5-$10 instead of $50-$100," Andrews admits. And unless something changes soon, the Galyons, who hoped to be in their new house by June, have a much longer wait ahead of them.
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