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Jessie's Canary Home

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Jessie was a happy, healthy 12-year-old girl when she came down with the flu and never recovered. She went from being a busy straight-A student with a promising academic career and bright future to spending her days sick in bed, confined to a dark, quiet room. Debilitating symptoms dominated her life, from body-wide pain to crushing fatigue to frightening cognitive symptoms like (quite literally) forgetting how to read. Forced to drop out of school, she lost any chance at a normal teenager's life, as well as almost all of her friends. Life as she knew it was over, and she gave up on the hope for a future.

After a years-long journey through many specialists and failed treatments, Jessie was finally diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME/CFS, more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In addition, she learned that her immune system was so compromised that she had been living with 3 chronic viruses that not even the strongest antiviral medications can eliminate. Then came diagnoses of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, (POTS), Dysautonomia, and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). In 2020, she was further diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation and Craniocervical Instability, with both requiring an intense neurological operation on her brain and spine to address, as well as a diagnosis of an Occult Tethered Cord, which required another surgery on her lower spine in 2021.

Despite the numerous grueling surgeries and years of treatments, Jessie, now 29 years old and still mostly housebound, is only able to leave the house for short periods of time and only for essential trips like going to see her doctors. She lives in chronic pain, is extremely sensitive to light, sound, and temperature, and still needs to sleep 12+ hours a night in order to maintain any semblance of function. Something as simple as taking a shower leaves her exhausted and in increased pain, and it takes her days to fully recover from even the simplest exertion. While the surgeries and other treatments have helped some with her quality of life, she is still extremely limited in her capacity to live a meaningful life.

This is where this fundraiser and housing project come into play. Jessie, like many others with ME/CFS, is highly susceptible to environmental conditions. Factors like mold, noise pollution, and VOCs, which are minor inconveniences for healthy individuals, can be completely debilitating for people suffering from these conditions, including Jessie. Older houses suffer from years of moisture exposure leading to mold and mildew, have dust and other allergens accumulated in ductwork, and can have older, un-shielded wires that lead to EMF pollution. Jessie lived in a 150+ year-old house for 3 years, and she rapidly declined in health due to these factors being present in her living space and is still recovering from the effects almost a year later. Newer houses, especially those newly constructed with traditional building materials, are rife with VOCs and chemicals off-gassing from everything from flooring to paint to adhesives. Conventionally-constructed houses are also prone to issues with moisture retention and thus mold growth, making them unsafe in both the short- and long-term for people like Jessie.

On the other hand, houses constructed with hempcrete and alternative construction methods correct these sensitivity issues by building with the health and safety of the resident in mind. Through careful consideration of materials, airflow, water quality, lighting, sound dynamics, and more, these “safe houses” or “healthy houses” become places of peace and refuge for people struggling with the extreme sensitivities Jessie combats every day. Architects, building biologists, and other knowledgeable environmental consultants help to ensure the highest level of safety is met in order to reduce the impact of these environmental factors in the overall design.

There is a rapidly growing demand for these healthy, healing homes, but to date, only a handful of environmentally-safe communities have been built. The need for this type of housing is much larger than most realize, and the demand is growing significantly. Any communities already in place are at full capacity and most have extensive waitlists already accumulated. As such, there is currently no safe place for Jessie and so many others like her to live. Many people with the same conditions and sensitivities are homeless, forced to resort to living in their cars as the only places they don't react to.

The objective of Hemp 4 Humanity's Canary Homes project is to use the power of hempcrete to create affordable, healthy homes to address this growing need, with Jessie's home serving as the prototype to prove this concept. Funds raised through this effort will go towards developing and building the first Canary Home for Jessie.

Hempcrete has many natural advantages that make it an ideal choice for building healthy homes:

• Hempcrete is breathable, meaning it absorbs moisture during high relative humidity and releases it when the relative humidity drops. This makes it resistant to mold and pests, which typically occur only in spaces where humidity accumulates, getting trapped by non-porous building materials.

• Hempcrete is a low-VOC material. It contains no harmful chemicals or synthetic materials that can off-gas into the air. This makes it an excellent choice for people sensitive to chemicals or allergies.

• Hempcrete has excellent thermal properties. It has a high thermal mass, which means that it can store heat and release it slowly over time. This helps regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy consumption. Hempcrete also has a low thermal conductivity, which means that it is a good insulator.

Using hempcrete and other environmentally conscious materials, Hemp 4 Humanity aims to build a safe, healthy home for Jessie that will allow her to heal and achieve a better quality of life. She currently has no options in her county for safe, affordable housing, as she's permanently disabled and cannot provide income for herself. A safe house means security and hope for a better future.

This project is truly Jessie's last hope for a shot at a normal, safe life.

Hemp 4 Humanity IS NOT a 501 (C) (3)
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Illustration of helping hands

Give $20 and be a founding donor

Your donation is the start of Hemp's journey to success. Your early support inspires others to donate.

Make a donation
Make a donation

Fundraising team (4)

Hemp For Humanity
Three Rivers, MI
Jessie DeDecker
Team member
Laurie DeDecker
Team member
Luca Pandolfi
Team member

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