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Dozens pledge help to Baton Rouge man following WBRZ report

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BATON ROUGE- Tonight, dozens of people in Baton Rouge and beyond have pledged to help a man living in dilapidated conditions.

On Thanksgiving night, we showed you the conditions 80-year old Joseph Dartez was living in. His North Baton Rouge home is falling down, but he still lives there. This is unfolding in the 6000 block of Dutton Street.

Since Thursday, we've been flooded with calls and emails with people trying to help Dartez. We showed you his plight. Tonight, you'll see the help he's about to get.

A Christmas wreath adorns 80-year old Joseph Dartez's North Baton Rouge home. Behind it, an unspeakable disaster. His house is collapsing, and the roof is caving in. The rafters and studs are buckling and the structure could give way at any minute.

"The front room and the kitchen are completely gone," Dartez said.

Dartez's story touched dozens of you, evidenced by a pile of emails we received. One reads, "I don't have much to give, but I don't mind giving $10 to $20. Would that help?"

Generous viewers opened their hearts, offering to assist Dartez. The story caught the attention of local mortgage lender, GMFS.

"To see the way Mr. Dartez is living, I think there's an opportunity to make an impact and improve his life," GMFS President Tee Brown said.

Dartez never imagined that he'd spend his golden years living in conditions like these. To make matters worse, he's still paying a mortgage on the house. Electricity is hooked up there, even though the house needs to be condemned.

"We have not seen this with someone actually living in the property currently," Brown said.

The help Dartez is getting, would not have been possible if it weren't for his neighbor Stephanie Bureau. She spoke up when she saw us covering a different story and knew she had to say something to help the man she's been looking after for decades.

"Being his voice, I can do that," Bureau said. "I feel like I'm his relative, a family member who is speaking out for someone not as articulate."

Tonight, we can happily report GMFS is working to clear the mortgage on Dartez's house and relocate him. It's part of the company's pledge to give back.

"One of the things we do at GMFS, is over the course of the year we raise money over the holiday season," Brown said. "We adopt families and people in need. Our employees search for those people."

Meanwhile, Bureau can finally rest easy, knowing the man she's helped for so many years will finally have a safe place to sleep at night.

"To the people willing to help Mr. Dartez, thank you, thank you, thank you very much," Bureau said. "I'm going to say prayers for each one of them."

If you would like to help Mr. Dartez, here's how to do it:

Contact Megan Scott with GMFS at mscott@gmfslending.com or 225-490-6647.  She will be able to direct you on where to send your donation or how your services can help Mr. Dartez.

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