I've been wanting to do a Holiday Helping Hands Project from The Homestead for several years now. This one knocked on my door.

Poverty is SO BIG in Mississippi. Today I saw a child get out of a run-down truck in a dirty coat with a man who had few teeth, while a poorly-dressed woman held a screaming baby in the cab. I was carrying a shopping bag with tailgating attire for my kids. Sometimes it just feels overwhelming. Should I have offered to help? We were near the liquor store. Should I have bought some diapers in the Fred's nearby? I don't know. I never know. I just want to help, but I want my money to be used well.

                            Tina and my daughter Cecelia

                            Tina and my daughter Cecelia

Many of you know my friend and babysitter, Tina Bell. I met Tina in my adult literacy class at Emerson Family School when we first moved here, ten years ago. She and her husband, Henry, have been married for over 20 years. They have paid on a house in Sunset Subdivision for that long. Henry worked at the wire factory on MLK BLVD for twelve years until it closed. He has worked at Wal-Mart ever since. Tina does not drive because she has epilepsy. She works part-time in my church nursery. Last year she won an award from Volunteer Starkville for logging the most hours of any individual at Emerson Family Center. These are good people.

About ten years ago, Tina and Henry saved up money and hired someone to enclose their back patio into a sunroom. The guy did a crap job, took the money, and never finished. Then Henry's business closed. There it has sat, rotting and falling off ever since. I've asked Tina about it over the years. "We can't find anybody we can trust to deal with it," is what she always tells me. But now, it has started leaking into their house that is eight years away from being paid off, and creating rot and mold. 

Finally, I got some men from Habitat for Humanity out to see if they could rip it off with help from Henry and money from Tina and Henry for materials. "It's beyond us," Paul Cuicchi said, a veteran volunteer in our community. "I wish we could help. The house is a good one and worth saving, but it's probably going to cost about $10,000 with a contractor."

And this is how poverty is inescapable.

This is how two hard-working people, who don't do drugs, who volunteer in their community, who pay on a house, end up with nothing. One bad investment and they lose the whole house. 

I can't stand that. And there is something I can do about it. I've found a contractor who is fair. Tina and Henry have saved up enough money for materials. We can do the rest. The Bells will be singing this holiday season if their house, their investment, is saved. 

Homestead Holdiay Project: Bells will be Singing

The Homestead is taking on this project. Please consider making a generous, tax deductible donation to this Holiday Helping Hands Project.

Thank You,

Alison Buehler


Thank you donors:

(If you donated and do not see your name please let me know.)

Wendy Dandass

Sinclair Lundy

Talley Images

Mandy and Will Sanders

Meredith and Chris Shapley

James Hearnsberger

Nancy Woodruff

Fatima Shmulsky 

Marilyn Easley

Kenny and Katie Langley

Yaraly Espinoza

Cecelia Bunyard 

Ana Arnizaut-Vilella

Brandy and William Johnson 

Lynn Peterson

William Johnson

Michele Anderson

Blair Reed

Todd Hunt

Rowan Haug

Liza Sorgenfrei

Cheryl Conlee

Margaret Henderson

Lisa Long

Catherine Walker

Salvadora Keith

Juli Rester

John Swan

Courtney Swan

Patricia Murray

Heather Wainwright

Cara Stockton

Carmen Rodgers

Barbara Coats

Costume Party

Shirley Guo-Ross

Mary Vlatch

Ericka Bazzill

Mann and Mandy Conrad

Lisa Lee

Rebecca Guidry

Alex and Ann Stelioes-Wills

Anne Marshall

Leslie Fye

Adrian Sescu

Mary Smith

Andrew J. Mackin

Katie Langley

Tammy Gammill

John and Kay Brocato

Bill and Helen Sue Parrish

Tommy and Audra Williamson

Lauren Zumwalt

Whitney Hilton

Cassandra Palmer

Martha Roskelly

Rosie Oppedal

Faye Fisher

Pat Murray

Catherine Walker

James Hearnsberger

Johnny and Deborah Wray