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Clemson University students spend Spring Break in Gifford helping community By Debbie Carson – Friday, Mar 25, 2011 11:33 AM GIFFORD —
Students from South Carolina’s Clemson University spent their spring break painting a house, tutoring children and helping Habitat for Humanity instead of soaking up the rays on a beach.
“We can actually get something done this way,” 22-year-old Jordan Hinson said, taking a quick break from painting Gifford resident Carol Collier’s home.
He added that they are able to enjoy the sun and weather, being outside, working.
“It’s going great,” Hinson said. “We’re enjoying each other’s company.”
Collier lives in Gifford with her two sons, 17-year-old Javine Matthews and 10-year-old Johnathen Presley. Their home on 30th Avenue had sustained damage in the 2004 hurricanes, damage Collier is still working to repair.
“We had some major damages,” she said, explaining that Every Dream Has A Price had helped get the house patched up.
“The house was in desperate need of painting,” Collier said, adding that if not for the Clemson University students helping out, it would have been some time before she could have saved up enough money to hire a professional or buy the supplies herself.
“I’m so grateful,” Collier said of the assistance the students provided.
She said that the students not only helped out around the house, painting and cleaning, but they also spent time with the family, helping with Algebra homework and sharing Scripture.
“That inspired me spiritually,” Collier said.
The students are members of the university’s Navigators, an on-campus, non-denominational Christian organization.
The purpose of the Spring Break mission is to provide the students an opportunity to serve others and develop their sense of community, according to Campus Director Jason Johnston.
The Gifford trip was meant to provide the students with options for service – manual labor, tutoring, and sales.
“We’re very stretched,” Johnston said, referring to how they feel about helping those in need of help.
He said that many of the students have never been exposed to those who have such struggles.
Sarah Stalnaker, 19, and Susan Butler, 21, spent the first part of the week at the Gifford Youth Activity Center playing with the children, reading to them and helping them with their homework.
“It was awesome,” Butler said. “We basically just loved on the kids.”
Clay Templeton, 22, also spent time at the GYAC working with the youth.
“Knowing their position and seeing how happy they are, helps me find joy in that,” Templeton said.
Grace Custer, 18, spent time at the Habitat for Humanity Home Center, hanging art, pricing items and working with the volunteers and staff.
“It’s just been a great experience,” Custer said of being able to help. “It’s an overflow of what Christ has done for us – we do for others.”
Johnston said that they would be remiss if they didn’t thank Kings Baptist Church, on 58th Avenue, for its support. The church allowed the 31 students to stay in the gymnasium at no charge – saving them the expense of hotels.
Coastal Community Church, in Sebastian, also assisted by putting the Navigators in touch with local organizations.
The students head back to South Carolina on Saturday.
(c) 2010 Vero News, LLC
Tommie Lewis’s house was severely compromised by the hurricanes in 2004. He has been renting since then. Soon after the hurricanes Tommie removed all of the carpeting, the ceilings, drywall and insulation. He got on the county’s SHIP program starting at #148. After about 2 years he was number 3 and they told him there was no more money. As you can imagine he was devastated. His family no longer had his wife’s income as her mother had a stroke and Kathy became her full time care giver and they did not see how they could ever afford to fix their house. Tommie felt that there was no hope knowing his income from the packing houses would keep him from being able to finance needed repairs. In May 2010, the county granted an HHR grant to Tommie to partially pay for the construction of a new home and partnered with EDHAP who agreed to build the other half of the house.
4747 35th Avenue • Vero Beach, FL 32967
Helen Ausby is a long time resident of Gifford and has not been able to live in her home since the three major hurricanes named Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma destroyed it. Here is her account of what occurred, “I was not able to get a licensed contractor for quite some time after the hurricanes…but was still living in the house with my 17 year old daughter. Finally, after waiting for people to give me an estimate, people started to come by the house and they told me they would call back after they checked on material prices. They said they would call me back and they never did. Several years had gone by and finally in the spring of 2007, I was able to have what I thought was a reputable contractor to work on my house. They had worked on a neighbor’s house so I felt that I could trust them. A contract was entered between me and the company and my insurance company had given me the go ahead. The work was to be completed in 120 days. In the beginning everything was going real well on the project until the day I was asked if all the permits were being pulled with the county. That is when I found out there were no permits issued and I had already paid these people $20,000 plus and I wasn’t able to contact the contractors. Their phone numbers were disconnected and I could not talk to anyone. They County Building department came out to my house and found out there were no permits pulled and the contractor I hired was not licensed like they led me to believe. Per the County Building department, everything that was done was going to have to be undone. I have been in a state of unknown or distress since this came about. To add insult to injury, over the Thanksgiving holiday, someone broke into my house and cut all the copper and electrical wiring and stole two bicycles. I am a single parent with a 17 year old daughter who has juvenile diabetes. Life has not been easy for us and I am not able to come up with additional funds to fix my house. In my life I try to do right by everyone. All I want to do is to be able to move back into my house with my daughter and be home with my family and neighbors.”
4401 25th Avenue. Vero Beach, FL 32967
Louise Colley is a widowed great grandmother in her seventies, who for the past five years has not been able to live in her home due to extensive hurricane damage. Mrs. Colley raised her five children in this home, and in 1975 lost her husband. Two of her daughters are undergoing chemotherapy right now and battling cancer. Her house was in shambles after the two ’04 hurricanes destroyed it; however, Mrs. Colley has been trying to fix it up little by little. Mrs. Colley was caring for an elderly lady about 100 miles away and sending her earnings to a “contractor” who basically milked her of everything she had and never fixed her home. For five years she has moved from house to house and been unable to move back into the home she has lived in for over 50 years! I can hardly express the sadness she feels because she is not able to live in her home.
On May 17th, a group of volunteers and the Every Dream Has A Price, Inc. group will held the first work day in a series to get Mrs. Colley back into her home. Skilled volunteers are needed including drywallers, painters and a stucco crew as well as inexperienced volunteers who may assist in painting, cleaning, moving and other basic tasks. Tangible needs include a dumpster and monetary donations to repairs. Details and past projects can be viewed at www.everydreamhasaprice.com Please contact Julianne Price at 772-713-6883 or Paul Tanner at 772-240-2663 if you can help!
Jefferson 1019 State St. Fellsmere, FL 32948
Pamela Jefferson is a single mother who lives in a dilapidated house in Fellsmere, FL. Her husband, who was addicted to drugs, left her and her children to fend for themselves many years ago. She has no further contact with him and receives no child support. To support herself and children, she went to work in the field of Nursing and held down a job for 10 years at a Nursing Home until she was seriously injured on the job when a patient attacked her. She has been in physical therapy after undergoing surgery for awhile but was just told by her doctor that her condition will not improve. She cannot use the upper half of one side of her body and has metal plates inserted into her back permanently.
Mrs. Jefferson has three children, one of which is 10 year old Veronica who has been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. Ms. Jefferson was just informed that Veronica has a kidney that intermittently has problems functioning. Frequently, Veronica has to see specialists for her condition and some days are a struggle for her to get through. She is an adorable child and full of love- she smiles through it all. As you might imagine, this has been quite an emotional challenge for the entire family.
Pamela is trying to be optimistic and although she is struggling, has moral support of her Godmother. She is very religious and has been praying for God to help her with her living situation for two years. The house, although only 19 years old, was built poorly. The floors, kitchen counters, electric, and cabinets have rotted wood, and due to faulty plumbing and the hurricanes, continues to rot in many places. Pamela used what little FEMA money she received to pay Maxwell Plumbing to fix her plumbing problem, but the kitchen has still has two places that leak and now the floor is about to fall through. On May 7th, her pipes burst and she had to turn her water off completely to prevent her home from flooding. Also, she tried to replace drywall, but the mold has returned. At the time of demolition, the roof still had the shredding of a blue tarp left over from the 2004 hurricanes.
Pamela is described by many community members as a giving individual even though she doesn’t have much. She always keeps her door open to people who need a helping hand and if she can help you, she will. Even though she has limited mobility, in mid-August she was able to get her license to start a cleaning business so that she can support herself and her children.
1015 State St. Fellsmere, Fl 32948
Martha Rainey is 63 years old and has lived in Fellsmere all her life- since 1964. She has three daughters and one granddaughter that she is helping put through college. Her grandson, Hakeem, who is eleven years old lives with her and she takes care of him. Ms. Rainey has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Her single wide trailer is in disrepair and after the two hurricanes in 2004, her roof is caving in, there is mold throughout the home, the floors are separating, and the trailer is being held up by a car jack. You can click on the video tab to see the recent demolition of her trailer.
Ms. Rainey is having a hard enough time going through chemotherapy, and I’m happy to report that the Mayor of Fellsmere aided us by relocating her to a temporary housing unit owned by B and W Growers until November 10th, 2007. Ms. Rainey desperately needs a new home that she can live in safely and one which does not pose a health hazard. Ms. Rainey often has many kids around as she like to look after them. She has a way of straightening out kids- not only her own, but she’ll look after and set straight children who aren’t doing right in the community. Both children and adults in her community respect her greatly. She also enjoys gardening, doing cross word puzzles, and watching football. She is known in the community for being a good cook and she says she is so happy that she will have a kitchen to cook in! Lately, she has a few good days but is tired and weak due to the chemotherapy; however, her kind and caring spirit shines through because she smiles through it all and keeps a positive attitude. Ms. Rainey returned to work in October as her medical bills are accumulating and she is falling behind. She hopes she feels well enough to be able to still have chemo sessions and work.