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People Working Cooperatively

For the second time this year and fifth time over the past few years, the People Working Cooperatively (PWC) volunteer group made their way back to the Delta, as promised, to help us with more home rehab projects. This time around, the talented, wisecracking group from Cincinnati spent much of their time helping with Rose’s home.

Driving up the gravel drive, the red clay earth peeked through. Deep ruts peppered the long setback. The vans, full of our volunteers, rocked to and fro as they plunged through them. Topping the hill, a little house with a tin roof came into view. They had arrived at Rose’s home. She is an elderly woman who lives alone in a small farmhouse that her family has called home for several generations. Rose’s house is deteriorating. Time and Mother Nature have taken their toll on the structure. Age, poor health and poverty have likewise taken a toll on Rose, preventing her from making the much-needed repairs to her home, inside and out.

This summer, Regnum Christi, one of our volunteer groups, helped to seal the rusted tin roof and repair an exterior wall. But there was still much to tackle. PWC was ready for the challenge. Upon arrival at Rose’s home, the first thing the handymen noticed was that Rose’s porch was held together by little more than a handful of penny nails. By day’s end, the old porch was down and a new, sturdy one was in its place.

“When she stood on the new front porch and cried, that’s what got me,” said Craig, one of PWC’s veteran volunteers. Visibly moved, he scurried outside and busied himself with more repair work. The following day, the nine volunteers split up to tackle other areas of Rose’s home.

Inside, leaks had caused the ceiling and part of a wall in the back room to cave-in. Dangling sheetrock and strings of damp insulation hung from the ceiling. New insulation and sheetrock was installed to repair that problem, as well as in the front living area of the home. Another coat of sealant was added to the aging tin roof to ensure that there are no more leaks.

“She’s never owned a vacuum cleaner—all she has is a broom,” remarked Craig.

Though all of the repairs have made a significant difference in Rose’s life, one room stands out: the bathroom. Rose has not had use of the house’s only toilet and bathtub for nearly two years. “I don’t know how she did it,” said Craig, shaking his head. “It blows my mind. We are all so fortunate and don’t realize it.”

PWC and our talented Volunteer Program staff gutted the non-functioning lavatory, replacing rotted floor joists and crumbling pipes. A new tub, toilet and vanity were put in place, along with a special treat—a bathroom heater to keep Rose toasty warm! A new water heater completed the ensemble, giving Rose necessities that we often take for granted.

Rose was so taken by all the work that tears of joy flooded her cheeks. She hugged each of the volunteers. “I keep saying thank you, but it’s not enough.” Before they left, these kind gentlemen gifted Rose with one more token of their time in Mississippi—her very first vacuum. The skilled “Buckeyes” made good time at Rose’s home, giving them the opportunity to work on a wheelchair ramp as well as do some finishing work on another before returning to Ohio.

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