Sophia's Hope

We have an update. The Lacey Firefighters Charity has decided to accept donations towards our project. They have vetted our need and understand what we are trying to do. We are so incredibly blessed by this opportunity! A website has also been created to help my family.  You can find more information and our story there. You can also make donations securely through PayPal towards the Lacey Fire Fighters Charity-Sophia's Hope and 100% of those donations are being used for the rebuild. They will handle all of the funds and will process all the steps from here on out.  You can still donate on this campaign, and I will then take them and deposit them into the charity account. For more information and to donate please visit: Hello, my name is Michelle and this is our story.  We purchased our new home thinking it was the best home for us.  It had everything we always dreamed of having in a home.  Metal roof, leaf guard gutters, just shy of an acre of land, private, and a 2383 sq ft rambler. We imagined growing our family and spending the rest of our lives in this home.  It was perfect in our eyes.  We did everything right, we hired a home inspector, and had the septic done.  And we even moved in on Christmas Eve.  We felt like we were giving the best Christmas present ever to our kids and to each other. However, little did we know, we were buying and moving into a house that would almost kill us. We all suffered medical issues.  Most of all our daughter who was just 3.5 at the time of her onset.  She now has PANS from the toxic mold.  Which is a permanent autoimmune disease that causes her antibodies to attack her own brain, resulting in inflammation in her brain and neurological issues.  She is now immune compromised.  Whenever her immune system is triggered by things it results in inflammation in her brain.   While we were living in the house, she was so sick and her brain was in such a bad state it was costing us [phone redacted] a month in medications and supplements just to keep her alive.  And that was not counting all the costs and expenses for all the specialists, labs and doctors we were constantly going to.  We went into deep debt just trying to save our daughters life.  Once we found out through blood testing her body was suffering from mold, that is when we discovered our houses issues.  Getting our daughter tested and evaluated was a very long and ongoing process.  We had to visit many specialists. Our doctor kindly provided a note  that I bring with us everywhere in case of flares happening in public, or for concerned neighbors.  A typical flare can last around 4 hours.  Our daughter has suffered the worst of all of us and will be effected for the rest of her life.  But she was not the only one who suffered health issues.  The rest of the family suffered, and so did our pets.  You can read all about all of our health issues here: We vacated the home September 2016, and are working to rebuild a home that will be safe for our daughters medical needs.  We were unable to save anything.  Our daughter and myself are so sensitive to the mold and the toxins we were unable to clean and save anything.  No matter how we did it, no matter what we tried, no matter what cheap or expensive product we used we couldn't without her still reacting.  We had to throw away EVERYTHING we owned.  Down to the clothes we had on our backs when we vacated.  We lost it all.  Our children's toys, pictures, my wedding dress and things i was wanting to save for my own daughter when she would get married.   I had to dress up in full remediation gear and as my googles filled up with my tears i had to go through my entire house and throw into trash bags our entire lives.  Room by room.  That was one of the hardest days of my life.   When it came down to taking it all to the dump we ended up throwing away 12,000 pounds.  That was how much our life weighed.  When i went through everything room by room I was shocked.  We had been out of the house and vacated for 2 months.  The only times we went back were to grab certain things to try and clean.  We even kept the furnace set on the same schedule as when we were living there because we didn't want anything to get ruined.  But in just two months time of not being there mold began growing on our stuff!  On our clothes hanging in the closet, on our dressers, on our mattresses, and even on every single plastic dish in my cupboard and drawers.  I was so shocked.  My daughters binkie that was in a drawer clean from the dishwasher just 2 months prior was covered in a white powdery mold.  My sons binkies that he was still using were just as moldy.    A "clean" spatula taken out of the drawer when i was throwing things away, covered in mold growth. I think what hit me the hardest was this was our kitchen.  These spores were in the air we were breathing.  These spores were in every "healthy" organic meal i prepared.  I was literally feeding my family toxic food and I didn't even know it.  Everything in the house that was wood, fabric or plastic was growing mold just like in the pictures. So, we still had to decide what to do about our house. Once we found the mold growing on all of our things we decided we were going to try and find the source of the mold and remove it, so we decided to gut the house. When we gutted the house, what we found on the back side of the Sheetrock in many places throughout the house was thick heavy, 2 inch tall mold growth.   We only lived in the house  for 18 months.  But this was behind the walls, growing on the studs, and throughout the attic and crawl space.  While we were gutting the house the entire picture became clear as to what was going on.  Every wall we took down gave us more of a look into how bad it all actually was.  Every area where we ripped up the floor, it all just kept getting worse and worse.  And we also saw how the previous owners covered things up to sell the house. The roof was leaking probably for 12 years. These were all the things wrong with the house: 1. Roof leaked down every outside wall of the home and spread out under the carpets and floor pads.  Two of our electrical outlets were even rusty inside because of water leaks.   The roof also leaked down around the chimney in the center of the house.  And then all along the large white brick wall in the living room/master bedroom. 2. Back deck was installed wrong and forced water from the rain up against the side of the house and under the house into the crawl space, where there was missing vapor barrier under half the house. 3. There were 3 old leaks under the house that had been leaking for a very very very long time. 4. There was a sewer leak under the house so our sewage was not fully going into our septic tanks, but instead was being deposited under our master bedroom, where again there was missing vapor barrier. 5. All ventilation in the attic was closed off and sealed up. The gables were covered and shut and the eave vents were stuffed with insulation.  And to top it off the ridge vent was not installed correctly and was also fully plugged up.  Oh, and yes, ALL of the fans, from the microwave, the stove, and all the bathrooms were not punched out through the roof, instead they were just buried under moldy insulation. 6. Half of the 2383 sq ft house was missing vapor barrier, and for a rambler, there were only 4 ventilation holes for the crawlspace that were not covered, closed off or buried. 7. The master shower which was tiled was the worst shower install ever.  They literally placed the tile directly onto normal Sheetrock and bare studs.  So every time that shower was used water went through that grout and tiles and soaked into the studs, and Sheetrock.  The shower pipes in the wall were also leaking inside the walls.  We didn't use our shower for 3 months before we gutted it and the Sheetrock was still soggy behind the entire shower.  When we bought this house it had new floors, new paint and even new Sheetrock in most of the rooms.  They hid and covered up so many problems!   Our daughters medical condition needs a toxic free home.  Her specialist advised us that the only chance she has for as close to a normal life as possible we need to keep her in an environment that is free from triggers as much as possible as she continues to grow.  Since she is still young the hope is that her continued growing immune system, if we remain trigger free, will grow in normally and hopefully overcompensate the part that is all damaged.  We actually did go and look at trailers, and new build homes, thinking that it was an option, better new build than old and possibly moldy right?  Well, nope.  the toxins they use to make those things now, Formaldehyde and VOCs were so overpowering even i got a chemical sensitivity hit, and while we were looking at trailers our daughter went into a HUGE flare that lasted for several hours.  That was pretty clear to us it was not an option either.  We did find a builder that builds quality homes with low to now emissions, and uses ductless systems that provide superior air filtration.  This was truly a miracle and an answer from God to find this builder.   Right now our living situation is temporary.  We are living with family, but will not be able to stay here for much longer.  We need to get our house built in a timely manner.  I know this was a long read and a lot of information, but please consider donating.  And please share!  We really need this and you would be helping our child and our family out so much.  Our need is very urgent.  Our daughters future and health depends on this.  We need to rebuild our home.  We must keep moving forward! Please donate using this campaign, or by going to our website:   On our website you can make a direct donation through PayPal to the Charity supporting us.  The Lacey Firefighters Charity, which is a nonprofit 501(C)(3).  Any donations that come in through this campaign will be directed into the Charity fund.  The Charity is using 100% of what is donated towards the rebuild. UPDATE:  Thanks to an anonymous donor, ALL donations that come in between March 15th and April 15 2019 to the Lacey Firefighters Charity Sophia's Hope fund will be matched!  Up to $50,000!  If we can meet this goal then we will have a chance to rebuild the framing and structure this year!  Right now, the foundation is set to be poured this April.  Every donation counts!  Please go to to make a secure donation through PayPal directly into the Sophia's Hope fund!

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  • various donations to the Lacey Firefighters Charity towards Sophia's Hope  
    • $5,958 (Offline)
    • 14 mos
  • Lacey Firefighters Charity-Sophia's Hope 
    • $57,224 (Offline)
    • 16 mos
  • Various Donors To Lacey Firefighters Chairty Sophia's Hope Fund 
    • $2,300 (Offline)
    • 18 mos
  • Lacey Firefighters Chairty 
    • $112,469 (Offline)
    • 18 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $250 
    • 19 mos
See all


Michelle Van Winkle 
Lacey, WA
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