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Accessible Home Found for Youth Disabled in Shooting

Times Staff Writer

In the new Hawthorne apartment of Gloria Cordero and her son Fernando, a hand-lettered sign over the kitchen entrance reads: “Welcome Home, ‘Nando.”

Indeed, for the Corderos, there’s no place like their new, wheelchair-accessible home.

For Fernando, 18, the apartment is a welcome change from the hospital where he spent 5 months recovering from a gunshot wound to the head that damaged his motor functions and caused some paralysis.

End of Long Search

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For Gloria Cordero, finding the new home meant the end of a long search for an affordable first-floor apartment that would accommodate her wheelchair-bound son.

Cordero, 33, spent months looking for such a place in the little spare time that she had between her job as an assembly worker at Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo and daily commutes to visit her son at a Hollywood hospital.

A tip from a Hughes co-worker in late October, days before Fernando’s release from the hospital, led Cordero to the first-floor, 2-bedroom duplex apartment on West 134th Street. The $750-a-month rent, $100 more than for her old apartment, is about the most she can afford to pay, but worth it, Cordero said.

“Fernando is so happy to be home for good,” Cordero said, adding that she, too, feels relieved.

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Cluttered on the dresser of Fernando’s new bedroom are six baseball trophies earned by the once-athletic youth. He was about to enter his senior year at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale when he was wounded in June in a drive-by shooting in Lennox. Sheriff’s deputies said they are investigating whether the shooting was gang-related but do not believe that Fernando was a gang member.

A single step at the apartment entrance makes it a little hard for Fernando to get in and out, but Cordero said her new landlord has promised to construct a movable ramp. There was no wheelchair access at their second-story apartment in Lawndale.

In addition to help from her Hughes co-workers, the Corderos have received $1,075 in donations, as well as birthday gifts for Fernando, as a result of a Times story and other publicity about their plight. One donor, who did not want to be identified, gave $1,000.

Cordero, who used $1,110 in state disability payments and $500 from her family to help pay moving costs and a security deposit, said she is saving the donations to help offset Fernando’s future expenses.

During a party celebrating Fernando’s 18th birthday in October, the Corderos were robbed of more than $100 in gift money. Although her son was disappointed, Cordero said, the two chalked it up as another misfortune and “kept going.”


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