“No one has ever showed me kindness like this,” are the words she shares while trying to hold back her tears.
She is sitting in a folding chair with six local teenagers under a pop-up canopy in her yard in Snellville on the first Friday in June. She is an elderly citizen in our community who finds herself in need of assistance with repairs around her 40-year old home. They are teenagers participating in the Lawrenceville Assistance Project that serves the elderly and low-income citizens in our community with much needed home repair projects with the support of Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity.
Ms. Smith (not her real name), worked for 30 years as a nurse for hospitals in Gwinnett until a devastating car accident caused her to become disabled. Since then, she has found it impossible to keep up with the maintenance of her home due to her condition and her limited income.
A few months ago, Ms. Smith contacted Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity for help because she had received a ticket from the Snellville Quality of Life Unit for the exterior condition of her home, which included broken windows, rotting wood, and excessive yard debris. Our A Brush with Kindness home preservation program was a perfect fit to meet her needs, and the Lawrenceville Assistance Project was the perfect volunteer group to do the work.
The Lawrenceville Assistance Project began 23 years ago when the youth group at the First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville decided to start a summer work camp in Lawrenceville to serve those in need of home repairs. This is the second year that Gwinnett Habitat has partnered with the camp to provide clients, tools, and materials for the teenagers. This year over 50 teenagers and 30 adults served 8 homeowners in Gwinnett. The team, at Ms. Smith’s home, worked hard to address a drainage issue that was causing her basement to flood. By the end of the weekend a new French drain was installed along with new shrubs and mulch.
Ms. Smith is one of many of our aging citizens who cannot take care of their aging homes due to their limited ability and lack of resources. Many must often decide between either paying for food or their medication, which leaves nothing for home repairs and maintenance.
Gwinnett Habitat decided to start its A Brush with Kindness program in 2014 because we believe, as one of our clients stated, “kindness is a simple thing.” Our citizens just need to be shown some simple kindness that allows them to remain in their homes to age in an environment and place which is safe and accessible.
Gwinnett Habitat is doing its part to address this need as it is increasing every day. It is estimated that by the year 2020, seniors will outnumber children living in Gwinnett County. If you would like to help us or know someone in need, please contact us at www.habitatgwinnett.org. Together we can share kindness to those in our community that need it most.
Brent Bohanan is Executive Director of Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity.
People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein at email@example.com or at 770-995-3339.