May 14, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
The Robertson family had fostered a child before, but when a placement agency approached them with two-and-a-half year old Levi, they didn't know what to expect.
Levi had been severely abused by his biological father, had lost the left hemisphere of his brain as a result, and was paralyzed on his right side.
They fell in love at first sight, and agreed to adopt him.
"Immediately we felt that God was putting it in our hearts that this is your son, your child," Margaret Robertson, Levi's mother, said. "We knew that He would provide."
Then something unexpected happened in a course of small miracles.
As soon as Levi moved home to the Robertson house on Hoag St. he started to move. He kicked his little right foot that was supposed to be paralyzed, moved his right arm. He opened his right eye and could look at his new parents. In the 14 months on Hoag St. Levi has grown mentally and physically and can now pull himself up. He says "momma", and "hi hi," watches TV and calls out to "kipper."
The Robertson's 900 square-foot house was not equipped for a boy in a wheel chair, but they knew they had to do something to ensure the progress and growth of Levi.
"We didn't know what we were going to do. A lot of families in our church were praying for us," Robertson said.
Margaret and her family of three attend Five Points Community Church of Auburn Hills, where they first learned about adopting state ward children.
Then, someone from the church nominated the Robertson family to Faithworks of the greater metro Detroit area.
Faithworks is a Christian service ministry that accepts requests for repairs and service projects for people in need.
Volunteers help with painting, roof repair and replacement, drywalling, carpentry, electrical and plumbing issues, yard work, deck staining and powerwashing, along with other services listed on the website www.faithworksmichigan.com.
That's when Beth Shifferd, the local mom who helped fundraise for Lake Orion's Team Alayna, was put to the test.
Over the course of last summer Shifferd and other local moms helped raise more than $27,000 to build a first-floor room for Alayna Zalac with numerous Lake Orion and local businesses providing materials, services and man power.
Shifferd coordinated the lot of it, and was contacted by Faithworks to help with Levi's Project donation coordination.
Beginning May 5, Faithworks and volunteers from around the state helped construct an 800 sq. foot addition to the Robertson house. They built a safe bedroom for Levi, a handicap accessible bathroom, a new bedroom for his parents and remodeled part of the kitchen.
"It is truly an amazing partnership between Rochester and Lake Orion," Shifferd said. "Once again our building department was a tremendous part of this along with multiple local businesses.
Shifferd applied for a grant supplied by the Orion Township Home Depot, and attained a $5,000 gift card to help fund the project, one of the largest donations.
With the help from the community, Shifferd has raised more than $30,000 for materials, building and medical equipment to be purchased for Levi, who uses a feeding tube four times a day.
Shifferd has been contacted by multiple organizations, including Levi's Project, for other service projects ever since Team Alayna was so successful.
"I am seeing there is something missing within our communities," she said. "There is a significant need for home modifications beyond what insurance covers for people that have some type of disability. And we have the people who want to help and make a difference. How do you bring those together?" Shifferd said.
Her quest at this point is to answer that question as the projects keep rolling in.
When Faithworks takes on a project, their goal is to finish it within six days.
From Monday May 5 until Saturday May 10 Faithworks volunteers, volunteers from Kensington Church and other local families changed the course of the Robertson's life.
"It's way beyond what we ever dreamed," Margaret said. "They're all out doing this to serve God and help us help this little boy who has been so injured. So many people have come around to love him, take care of him, and provide what's good and nice and useful for him to be able to excel, and be the best he's going to be."
Before adopting their first foster care child Mary, the Robertson's were under a lot of misconception of what it took to adopt a child.
Initially they believed it was too expensive, but after talking to Bethany Christian Service, their adoption agency, the task became a calling.
The Robertson's attained their foster care license and found Levi.
"Foster care, orphan care, there's help available," Margaret said. "For us it seemed like such a big thing to do, we're ordinary people with regular jobs. These kids need to be loved more than they need stuff, and there's help out there for someone feeling led to be doing something like this. They can do it."