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.
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.
The Homestead is taking on this project. Please consider making a generous, tax deductible donation to this Holiday Helping Hands Project.
THIS GOAL HAS BEEN MET! $5,295
Thank you donors:
(If you donated and do not see your name please let me know.)
Mandy and Will Sanders
Meredith and Chris Shapley
Kenny and Katie Langley
Brandy and William Johnson
Mann and Mandy Conrad
Alex and Ann Stelioes-Wills
Andrew J. Mackin
John and Kay Brocato
Bill and Helen Sue Parrish
Tommy and Audra Williamson
Johnny and Deborah Wray