I love the Kodak commercials that quote how much something costs, and then they show a picture that is so touching and then they say something like “Kathy’s graduation” or “Tyler’s first day of school”—“Priceless!”
I feel like we were making Kodak moments when we partnered with Americans Helping Americans® to work on David and Sandra Atwell’s house. David and Sandra have always rented their houses and have gotten by the best way they could. The house we have been working on for them will be the first house they can call their own. The Atwell family consists of David, Sandra and four children…
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David is a skilled carpenter and is very aware of his capabilities in that field. What he doesn’t realize is that he is also an excellent teacher. Her is very patient as he supervises the college students working on his house. He takes the time to explain the proper way of installing and “mudding” sheetrock, or how to install floor joists or framing a wall. David also talks about the pride he feels in owning this house and providing a home for his children.
Several of the groups that worked on David and Sandra’s house came back telling how David was so grateful for everything they had done for his family. David told the students that when he purchased the house he was excited at the prospect of owning his home, but dismayed at the thought of it taking years to make the house livable. David works odd jobs when he can find some work and Sandra works as a “bag-girl” at our local grocery store. They would work on the house in their spare time and when they had the funds to purchase building materials. Unfortunately, they had more spare time than funds, so they expected the work to be a lengthy project. With the help of the college students, church groups and Americans Helping Americans®, David now thinks he will be able to move his family into their new home by next year.
Watching the students work on David’s house has been an amazing experience. The house was fire-damaged and literally nothing but a shell. The kitchen floor was non-existent. It had been completely destroyed by the fire and flooding had further damaged the flooring and back wall. The students began the project by digging a trench in the dirt in the kitchen are and laying a drainage pipe. Next, they installed railroad ties and creek rocks to build up the back wall. Then it was floor joists, sub-floor and finally a floor. Walls were framed with 2×4’s and then insulation and sheetrock installed. Sheetrock was hung on the ceiling and the student’s created beautiful textured patterns on them. Windows were installed and kitchen island constructed. There is still so much work to be done on the Atwell house, but we have certainly made great strides in turning this shell of a house into a home.
The Atwell house is in the Town of War so I pass it almost ever day. I invariable look up at the house as I drive by, pleased and amazed at the progress being made. It may be another year before they are ready to move in, but when I drove by this past weekend I saw Sandrad had hung two beautiful pots of flowers on the porch.
I think we did it!!! I think we have turned that house into a home! Flowers handing on the porch and David and Sandra sitting on the steps waving at me as I drove by—Kodak moment—PRICELESS!!
By: Marsha Timpson Staff member of Big Creek People in Action War, West Virginia