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So Surely Grateful

Do you ever feel like a clown in a circus, juggling all life throws at you? When life swoops in, time flies by, and sometimes, before you know it, things are out of control. One day, you have a home in good condition. And the next, you find out the deck is no longer safe, an electrical box is hanging on the side of the house and the siding is rotted.

This story begins with a citation from Gwinnett County. Something that could ruin a day. The citation was for siding, trim and the broken garage door - no bare wood can be exposed. It was left on the front door to be found by Dana when she returned from a doctor’s appointment for her special needs adult son. A day ripe for frustration and friends telling her she should be mad, Dana instead became grateful. So surely grateful.

Dana knew she needed work done to her house, but with the cost to worry about, she kept putting it off. It had officially become a pressing matter. She said this was God saying it’s time.

With no computer, Dana started with a phonebook. She spent three months calling various agencies asking for help and even applied for grant money to find out that grant money had already run out. Dana reached out to churches because in 2007, Men in Missions with the United Methodist Church built a ramp for her son to more easily have access to the house. Dana also had been in touch with Todd Walker, District Chair for United Methodist Men. He wanted to help, and had some money to do so, but didn’t have the manpower or equipment.

One day, about a month later, there was a card left on her front door. Just like the citation and in the same spot. It was Barry Blakley’s card for Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush With Kindness program. This program helps with outdoor home repairs for low-income and elderly homeowners in our Gwinnett community.

She called Blakley and he came out to talk with her at her home. She found out he did not leave the card on her door. A volunteer in the area must have put it there. Dana knew this was another sign from God.

After he left, Dana sat and thought about his visit. “Kindness is so complex to be such a simple word. I then sat and tried to think of a better word, but I couldn’t, because kindness was the best word to describe the A Brush With Kindness program,” Dana said. “Kindness is so full of meaning. It is a blessing, it’s a gift. You are not always given kindness with a special needs son.”

During Blakley’s visit, they discussed the projects A Brush With Kindness could work on, a timeline and details of the program, including the application process and requirements. Blakley explained there are fewer safe work days in the Winter due to the colder weather, so they might have to wait until Spring to begin.

Dana got in touch with Walker and told him she would be able to get help from Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity. It turned out that Walker and Blakley were able to combine their resources and work on this project together.

Unexpectedly, Georgia had a rather mild winter with many sunny weekends in the 50s, making it possible for this project to be started so quickly. Mr. Don dropped off ladders a couple of weeks early and over a couple weekends, Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity, United Methodist Men, and a crew of ten men teamed up to fix Dana and her son’s home.

The siding was defective and pulling away from the side of the house. Stress built every time it rained, with fear of ruining the foundation underneath. Dana was happy to find out that there was no damage to the foundation. The men replaced 48 boards and then painted the entire exterior.

The back deck had not been used in three years due to nails coming out and boards coming up. The men were able to preserve the deck. They put in new nails, built new handrails and painted the deck.

Her house looks like new and Dana couldn’t be happier. Her neighbors and friends have made a point to visit her and tell her how wonderful her home looks. More than happy, Dana is grateful. She said, “I don’t say very because this act of kindness surpasses ‘very’, I am surely grateful.”

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