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North Port homeowner receives gift of a lifetime…help with repairs to her Ian-damaged home

By: Victoria Scott
Posted at 7:15 PM, Mar 07, 2024 

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Many people in southwest Florida are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian more than a year later. 

However, United Way of South Sarasota County and the nonprofit World Renew are helping several homeowners, such as Janina Migliaccio, build back their homes after the storm. 

“From the roof, to like, everything,” said North Port homeowner Janina Migliaccio. “My car, everything. I mean everything was affected.”

She said a miracle recently happened to her. 

“I didn’t find [them], they found me,” Migliaccio said. “[Hilda Dutton] just knocked on my door and we started talking.”

Dutton is the Director of Resilience and Recovery for United Way of South Sarasota County. She said she wanted to find people who needed help dealing with Ian damage. That’s when she crossed paths with Migliaccio. 

“After I spoke with her, I realized she had been a victim of fraud from a public adjuster,” Dutton said. “He had done some work and had left [her home] in a state where she didn’t even have water or a working bathroom. She couldn’t sleep. I mean, the house was uninhabitable.”

Dutton told Fox 4 United Way is the lead agency for the Long Term Recovery Group in Sarasota County. The agency partnered with World Renew to help Migliaccio. 

“We did carpentry, drywall, taping, finish carpentry,” said World Renew volunteer Dick Vreugdenhil. “We just did general things that had been destroyed in the hurricane.”

Other volunteers said it’s all a labor of love. 

“We bond together just like a huge family,” Deb DeKuiper said. “So, not only are we bonding with our clients, but we’re bonding with the people we meet.”

Migliaccio said this experience is also bittersweet because she can’t enjoy it with her husband who passed way. A number of other community partners, such as Convoy of Hope, donated resources to make it all possible.

The homeower says she’s grateful that a group of volunteers put in countless hours, so she can go back home.

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