Lucille Martin, born on Christmas Day, 1927, gets to come back home this week. She will be able to get in and out of her front door in her wheelchair. She will be able to go into her only bathroom. Her water heater will be on level, sound flooring in her kitchen. Her toilet won’t fall through the floor.
And she will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Lucille’s tiny home on East Florida Street was barely livable when the Westover Church group arrived to get started three weeks ago. The water heater, setting in the kitchen, had sunk almost five inches below the rest of the room. The floor joists, subfloor, and well, pretty much everything supporting a large area of the kitchen floor, was powder when Westover volunteers started tearing it out. In the bathroom, they removed the shaky toilet to reveal more rotten flooring and supporting structures. The bathroom door was too narrow for a wheelchair, and there was a partial wall jutting out between the toilet and the bathroom door, making it inaccessible for Lucille. The front porch was a barrier to the outside that Lucille could not cross.
The Westover team went to work! They repaired the kitchen floor and everything supporting it, laying shiny new linoleum. They tore out and replaced the bathroom floor, the partial wall that kept Lucille from getting to her toilet, and enlarged the door for wheelchair access. They built a brand new ramp over Lucille’s front porch.
Then, whoosh! The next week, a group of architectural engineering students from NC A&T came to put on the finishing touches. They spent their day, cutting and installing wood trim and quarter round, painting, loading and gathering up construction debris – making sure Lucille’s home will be inviting when she arrives home. They laughed and joked, talking about how much they were learning that day. One of this delightful group of young people seeking and getting experience in construction, Madison Davis said, “We’re architectural engineering students. This is what we get excited about!”
And that’s not all they learned.
The learned how it feels to help a woman of a different generation, someone they did not even have the chance to meet. They learned about living in community.
CHS’ team is grateful to the NC A&T Architectural Engineering team, Benjamin Johnson, Todd Gaines, Shyree Anderson, Tierdra Rembert, Jasmine Ellis, Tyler White, Rakeem Staggers, and Madison Davis, as well as the Westover Church team, who wish to remain anonymous. We are grateful, and so is Lucille.
– by Amy Murphy, CHS’ Community Engagement Coordinator