Thanksgiving Season Bestows Early Blessing
I wrote recently of the growing substandard housing crisis in our community, especially in the town of Robbins.
There, surrounding the rubble of the old textile mill, people live in some of the most depressed conditions to be found in any community, rural or urban.
There, families live in homes without heat, with windows that are more like screens, and porches that sag, shake and wobble, yet beneath which children play freely.
This past Monday, with Thanksgiving closing in faster than I wanted and a fall schedule double-booked seemingly everywhere, I nevertheless took the time for another drive to Robbins. I went with Karen Hieronymous. She’s the volunteer project coordinator with Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills who helped organize work projects for the recent Robbins “blitz” of home rehab projects.
Habitat teamed with the Northern Moore Family Resource Center on this blitz. The women at the center — Clare Ruggles and Marsae Stone — helped find families for these projects, qualifying them, educating them. These women of the resource center have been laboring mightily up in Robbins, often out of the sight of the rest of Moore County, to improve the quality of life for the children and families in this depressed part of Moore.
Since I couldn’t be in Robbins that Nov. 3 for the project, I wanted to see for myself the accomplishments. The result is a testimony to good will, good hearts and good hands.
Over at Bill East’s home on Lindale Street, I saw the new roof for him and his wife. A couple of weeks ago, it sagged in the middle from all the wet and rotten wood beneath the shingles. Inside their tidy, cramped home, large water spots had bloomed in several places on the ceiling.
The Easts have a new roof now. But more than that, they have peace of mind for the next time it rains. “I’m just so grateful, I can’t begin to tell you,” Bill East says.
At the Garcias’ home over on Green Street, volunteers rebuilt piers beneath the family’s front porch, then bricked it in around the sides to keep out the small children, who had played beneath it. Then volunteers built a small flower garden in the front, filling it with winter pansies. The family is excited and thankful, but more is coming. The 11 windows slated for their home are on order and to be delivered soon for volunteers to install.
So it went everywhere Karen and I went, accompanied by the ladies at the Northern Moore Family Resource Center. At one home, a wheelchair ramp for a 5-year-old girl ran up the back of their single-wide mobile home, and new lumber shored up the rickety front porch and steps. The stairs still sway a bit and need fixing, but that’ll come.
At another house off Old Plank Road, another wheelchair ramp for an elderly man living with a degenerative disease. He was so pleased by his good fortune. No more having to slowly lug and drag groceries up old weathered steps.
At another house, a new roof and rescreened porch. At yet another, a fresher, safer front yard that took a portable Dumpster to clean. The family, who have several children, including the oldest who’s disabled, still have no heat in the house, save for a wood stove. But volunteers also helped install insulation and seal a leaky roof, allowing the family to add more living space and spread out. Grateful, the father said. Blessed.
In all, nine homes were helped by the more than 90 volunteers who turned out that day. They were fed by volunteers from local churches, supplied with more than $8,000 worth of donated building materials from Locust Lumber.
You couldn’t look at any of these projects and not feel warmed and grateful for the work that went into all this. It took time to organize. The logistics were difficult: getting the projects qualified, lining up materials, finding volunteers, reassuring residents that help was coming. Some of these folks are very private individuals who, whether embarrassed or scared, were wary of others tromping onto their land, no matter how well intentioned.
But in the end, everyone walked away as friends, all the better — stronger — for what was achieved.
This is just a start. This is just a flash of what we are capable of. This is just the kind of community that can lead by example. This is just.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you.
Contact John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or email@example.com.
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