As long as she can, Margarita Matias will continue to care for her son.
Since seeing her son Ricky Perez, neglected and possibly mistreated at a group home, she knew she had to take charge of his care.
But Matias, 72, has stage four ovarian cancer. Her adult son, who has been diagnosed testicular cancer and was born with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability, requires constant care.
“As long as I can do it, I’m going to do it,” she said.
The Matias family is part of the Statesman Season for Caring program, which highlights the needs of 12 families and helps hundreds of others served by local nonprofit agencies. The Matias family was nominated by the CareBox Program, which provides free supplies to people with cancer.
Margarita’s husband, Jessie Matias, 60, was himself diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011. He remains cancer free after surgery.
Jessie Matias is the sole breadwinner for the family and often works long hours for Texas Gas Service. He can be gone sometimes for days at a time. His wife’s ability to care for their son is a constant source of worry.
Margarita Matias’ health can make their daily routine difficult. She will bathe Ricky, 46, in the mornings, but it is becoming harder to assist him in getting in the bath.
Help is on the way. Since their story was first in the paper on Sunday, Ernest Duran of Austin Facility Services has met with the Matias family and the CareBox Program to create a plan to make one of their family’s bathrooms accessible. Duran and his crew will remove the bathtub and install a shower with grab bars and a hand-held shower wand. They will also replace the sink and install an accessible toilet as well. Duran is hoping some of his suppliers will donate the shower, toilet and sink, but he is committed to completing this project for the Matias family, even if he has to cover what he estimates to be a $9,000 to $12,000 job. It will take a week once they get started.
Duran recently had his own health scare, which affected his vision. “It was terrible,” he says. “I couldn’t do much on my own.” It made him realize, he said, “There’s a lot of people that have it worse than I do.”
Duran has helped with home repairs for Austin Area Urban League in the past, but this time he was looking for something bigger. “I’m glad we can help,” he said.
The Matias family has many other home repair needs, including updating the wiring and remodeling the kitchen, where the stove hasn’t worked in months.
For months, the family has had to rely on their microwave as the sole way to heat up meals. Margarita Matias admits that she craves a home-cooked meal versus the frozen dinners they must have on a daily basis.
They also have a broken air conditioner and heater and none of their ceiling fans work. The family also doesn’t have a washer and dryer.
Even with the challenges they face, Margarita Matias said she is resolute about keeping Ricky in their personal care.
“I’m trying to do my best,” she said. “I sit down and I talk to him. I tell him, ‘Ricky, I’m going to stand by you.’”
To find out more about the Matias family or to give an item on the wish list, contact the CareBox Program, 512-296-2180, careboxprogram.org.
SEASON FOR CARING
• To make a monetary donation to Season for Caring, use the coupon on Page A6 or go online to statesman.com/seasonforcaring . Now through Dec. 11, the Sheth family has offered a matching grant of up to $100,000.
• Find more stories, videos and photos of all the families at statesman.com/seasonforcaring .
• To learn more about donating an item or a service, call 512-445-3590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.