“You’re going to love this family” summer staffer Nicole said, pulling up in front of a house on a quiet road in Greenbrier County, “They’re a really special family.” Nicole got out of the van and a little boy raced around the corner and jumped into her arms. Homeowner Lesley was close behind with a warm welcome.
Lesley showed us to a pleasant side yard shaded by large trees where her other three grandchildren were swinging contentedly in hammock chairs. Lesley introduced me to the kids and her husband James, and, while her oldest grandson went off to hunt for crawdads with Nicole, I sat down to hear their story.
Two years ago, Lesley explains, she and James bought this house mainly for the beautiful property it sat on right up the road from James’ dad and sister. They knew they would have to make significant repairs to the house, but they planned on living in their motorhome on the property while they completed the renovations. Unfortunately, the previous owner had a significant number of pets and getting rid of the smell proved more problematic than Lesley and James had expected. After discovering mold behind the drywall, they figured the house was probably a lost cause and decided to convert a large garden shed into a tiny home for the two of them.
Then, life changed drastically for Lesley and James.
In April, Lesley and James received custody of their four grandchildren, ages 1 to 6. The home inspector said the motorhome and the tiny home were not going to work for the new family. Afraid of losing their grandkids, they needed a place to live, and they needed it fast.
And, as He always does, God provided.
The home inspector later called to tell them he was sending an ASP home repair application to them along with a cover letter he had written. He just needed them to fill out a few remaining questions and put it in the mail. Lesley and James had never heard of ASP before, but they filled out the application anyway and sent it off.
A few weeks later, a man from a nearby town heard that they needed a place to live and offered them an apartment, rent free, for a couple of months. The home inspector came out to the apartment, approved it, and while he was there asked Lesley and James if they had heard back from ASP yet. Lesley said no, and all of them thought it was probably not going to work out that summer. The very next day, however, the Center Director from Greenbrier County called. She and her team wanted to come and take a look at the house.
Soon after that Initial Home Visit, work was underway on one of ASP’s biggest home projects for the summer. Volunteers cleaned out the items left behind by the previous homeowner and took down the old floors, ceilings, and walls. They lined the concrete foundation with foam board, put down a vapor barrier, and installed subfloor and insulation.
When I came to visit, the cinder blocks had been sealed and the interior walls and closets were framed out. Summer staff were already making plans to bring in a shower and kitchen cabinets. The house felt clean and fresh, and it was easy to envision the kids hanging out in their new bedrooms and playing in the open living room and kitchen.
It has been over a week since I visited this family, but their story is one I will never forget. Over the summer, I have talked to many homeowners whose lives have been changed because of the work ASP has done. They save more money each month because their homes are more energy efficient. They have safe stairs to walk down, ramps to give them more mobility, and new roofs to keep them dry.
For Lesley and James’ family, however, the work that ASP does means even more. “It means the world to us because it was the difference between them ending up in the system with strangers” Lesley explains. “We have them because of ASP. We were able to keep them because of ASP. I can never say thank you enough”.
While ASP has made an impact on the life of this family, I know that Lesley and James have made an even greater impact on the lives of those around them. They are gracious, patient, and hospitable, and such a wonderful example of Godly love to the volunteers working on their home and to their sweet grandchildren. Thank you, Lesley and James, for the work that you do.
Story Gathering Intern