Homeowners, neighbors say contractor gets results for Port Orange 55-plus community

Steve Parker donated time, labor and supplies to help seniors get back in their homes

PORT ORANGE, Fla. – Drive through the Summer Trees subdivision in Port Orange and you’ll still see mounds of construction debris piled by the roadside. Drywall, baseboards, cabinets and even a sink waiting for trash pick-up.

When two hurricanes and a busted water main caused flooding in the 55-and-up community, residents were left to pick up the pieces. Most didn’t have flood insurance and burned through savings to get work started.

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That’s when a contractor with a soft spot for the seniors stepped up.

Steve Parker heard about the neighborhood from friends and knew he had to help.

“I didn’t come into this looking for publicity,” Parker said. “I came to help people. They needed it. There’s been times in my life when people gave me a hand up versus a handout and that’s what this is.”

Parker is putting the finishing touches on 96-year-old Dan Levenson’s home on Crooked Pine Drive. New drywall, four feet high, waits to be painted, countertops and appliances still need to be installed.

Levenson, a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars remembers waking up in his recliner surrounded by water.

“I put my feet on the floor and water was up over my ankles,” Levenson said. “That’s when I knew there was a problem.”

Parker will tell you, proudly, that he’s helped build everything from launch pads at Kennedy Space Center to theme park rides and skyscrapers. But rebuilding five homes for these seniors brings him just as much satisfaction. He said he heard stories of other contractors coming through the neighborhood and taking advantage of the situation.

“They’re starting over. These people are all elderly, they’re 55 and up,” Parker said. “In fact, the people I’m helping are in their 70s, 80s and 90s.”

Part of Parker’s commitment includes spending thousands of his own dollars.

“The joke is, I’m paying to go to work right now,” Parker said with a laugh.

Ronald Bigelow lives down the street. Bigelow walked over to his house, bent over and placed his hand about knee-high on his entryway wall.

“The water level was this high,” Bigelow said.

Parker is also working on his home. “It was like a big lake,” Bigelow said.

Bigelow said he, like his neighbors, is relying on FEMA assistance to pay for much of the work. Parker is someone he can trust and someone the neighborhood has embraced.

“He’s a good man,” Bigelow said. “You have to put up with a lot of his stories though.”

Parker also moderates a Facebook page called What’s Happening Port Orange. It’s a community page where people can keep up on local events and help their neighbors. Parker has been updating his progress with regular posts.

“I try to keep the page as positive as I can,” Parker said. “It’s for helping people but someone can ask who is a good doctor? Or I lost my dog. Be on the lookout.”

News 6 received a number of Getting Results Award nominations for Parker from members of the group.

Jennifer Bennet wrote: “Steve has helped so many folks in our community in so many ways. He goes above and beyond to help people every single day of his life. I cannot tell you how important his work is and the miracles he is making happen. He is the type of person who will (and has) give the shirt off his back to help someone.”

Pauline Taylor wrote: “Steve is a selfless good soul who helps multiple people/causes/families in his community.”

And this from Amanda Michels: “Steven has been amazing. He has gone above and beyond for our community. He has helped the elderly and veterans in my subdivision and they are beyond grateful for him. Our community is a better place because of him.”

Jennifer Rodriguez added: “Steve is the most selfless person I have watched and talked with. He has given back so much to Port Orange. He used so much of his own money to help rebuild our community. During Hurricane Ian, he helped evacuate people, handed out water, help remove debris, and now after Hurricane Nicole, with his own home damaged, he is rebuilding homes.”

Parker said he hopes his story can be an inspiration for others.

“Whoever sees this, just pay it forward. Help somebody. Jump in and volunteer. There’s so much negativity in the world. We need more positive,” he said.

Parker said labor and supply shortages have slowed progress but he hopes Dan Levenson is back in his home by next week, but Parker will continue to stop by.

“I’ve spent every single day in this neighborhood seven days a week,” Parker said. “They’ve become family.”

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About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.