Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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January 23, 2014

‘A God-send’

Walmart teams with Labor of Love for Chandler woman

Athens — A very generous donation from the Athens Walmart enabled a team of Labor of Love volunteers to provide a much needed wheelchair ramp, free of charge, for Martha Smith of Chandler.

Walmart’s financial support provided the necessary funding to completely rebuild and extend the existing porch, and then added a 28-foot wheelchair ramp.

“Walmart of Athens’ thoughtfulness enabled the Labor of Love to continue our work for the less fortunate across Henderson County. We are very thankful for their recognition of the need and generous financial support,” said project manager Gary Chasey.

Smith has severe mobility problems. She is widowed, living alone with no one to assist her. She lost her husband of 56 years in August of 2012.

“I still miss him so much,” she said.

Smith was born in Dallas in 1934, making her a lively 79 and counting.

Lonnie, Sr. and Martha were married in 1956, and were blessed with Lonnie, Jr., Louise and J.D.  All of their children are currently living in Grand Prairie.

She is a lady of many hobbies.

“I painted oil landscapes for over 10 years that featured wild animals,” Smith said. “My family would pick favorites before I had completed the work. More than once, a family member would say I want that one, only to have another member say ‘I was hoping to get it.’ I would make a duplicate to keep peace in the family.”

In addition, she crocheted for more than 15 years, but, “Now my fingers won’t let me do the fine work necessary.”

Instead, she has joined a neighbor lady making blankets that they send to needy families in Appalachia.

The wheelchair-ramp crew included Jerry Hamilton, Danny Potter, Ken Hornbeck, Lacey Ward and Gary Chasey, project manager working on a very cold wintery day.

The team raised the existing porch five inches, and then extended it to accommodate the 28-foot long ramp.

“They were a God-send, now I can get out of the house regularly. Thank you, thank you, Labor of Love,” Smith said.

The end result speaks for itself. She is thrilled.

Smith said the volunteers from the Labor of Love are a wonderful example of what the Bible says in the book of James: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Toiling in the Texas weather is always a challenge. It is either too hot or too cold, but these volunteers persevere, because the need is great.

“The people of Henderson County can take great pride in its volunteers who serve in many different organizations, like those who are part of Labor of Love, and their willingness to give of their time to improve the quality of life for the less-fortunate families living among us,” said Gary Chasey.

The Labor of Love is a United Way agency of Henderson County that is a faith-based volunteer organization, which has as its mission to provide home repairs free-of-charge to the handicapped, indigent elderly, single mothers and grandmothers raising grandchildren across all of Henderson County.

Examples of repair or modification of homes made year-round include construction of wheelchair ramps, installing grab bars, widening bathroom entrances, fixing rotted front steps, repairing leaking faucets and roofs, holes in floors, etc.

They have over 25 years of home-repair experience with a focus on health and safety issues.

If you need assistance, call 903-675-LOVE, and ask for an application to be mailed to you.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” Chasey said, “If you’re interested, we’d love to make you a part of the team by calling the number above.”

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