McCULLOM LAKE – As of two months ago, Marcy and Warren Bailey were living in the middle of what can only be described as a manmade sinkhole. Their 800-square-foot home fell victim to dilapidation because of poor construction and 33 years of inhabitance with minimal upkeep.
The floor of the bedroom was quickly collapsing and the wall caving in, pushing their bed onto an angle. The kitchen had acquired over three decades of grease build-up and the water heater was slowly sinking into the ground, causing the bathroom to be non-useable.
Needless to say, the Baileys had fallen onto hard times and needed some help and Neighbors Helping Neighbors of McCullom Lake were quick to find it.
Enter Dale McClelland, a Project Coordinator with Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness program, which specializes in home preservation and offers painting, landscaping, weatherization and minor repairs, which in this case, weren’t so minor.
McClelland, along with his team of volunteers, rolled his sleeves up Saturday morning to begin working on putting a new floor in the back section of the house for the bedroom and bathroom area.
As it stood, the entire back of the home was a mere shell, the team already having cleared out all of the Baileys’ belongings in that area in order to completely gut the floor and walls, lay new concrete and restore the beam running through the center of the floor which had broken and caved.“We want to give them a safe and structurally sound home,” McClelland said. “A Brush with Kindness isn’t about simply remodeling people’s homes. We’re not building the Taj Mahal. We’re here to give them a safe and clean environment.”
McClelland said they are not a maintenance service, but a program to help people that can’t maintain their home. Had they not stepped in when they did, McClelland was confident that the entire structure would have collapsed.
Woodstock resident Ron Lillie, is a newbie to the Habitat for Humanity cause but after only four months, the longtime carpenter and home builder said he gets more out of working on these projects than constructing a $5 million home.
“You live in your world and you don’t realize what’s going on around you,” said Lillie. “We want to get these people pointed in the right direction and get them used to a new, changed environment where they appreciate the change and want to continue it.”
Marcy Bailey said she is ready for said change and looks forward to a whole new start, which will include finding a home for her seven pet doves which currently reside in the home. The doves will need to be out of the Bailey’s home in order to ensure proper upkeep.
The Baileys are living in the front area of the home during construction and are currently without running water.
They use port-o-potties set in the front yard, access water from their neighbor and shower at Marcy’s sister’s home in the neighborhood.
McClelland admits this is the most extensive project that he has taken on with A Brush with Kindness to date, but looks forward to the end result and getting the Baileys into a home that is once again, livable.
“Even the smallest thing to you is so huge for many of these people,” McClelland said. “Even just fixing a sink can make someone’s life so much better. I can’t even count the number of hugs I’ve received doing what we’re doing.”
Surely Marcy Bailey is reserving many hugs for McClelland and his team for their efforts on the home.
“It’s wonderful. It’s so nice to have people like that, who would do so much for you, when you can’t,” Bailey said.
McClelland said he hopes to have the home finished by the end of October but is a bit leery due to a need for additional help during the week that he said is hard to find.
“You’d be surprised how much of a difference even an extra pair of hands can make,” McClelland said. “I hope we can get a few more hands out here during the week to give the Baileys the safe home they deserve.”