Thanks to First State Bank of Athens, a very generous donation enabled a team of Labor of Love volunteers to provide a much needed porch and wheelchair ramp, free of charge, for Betty Smygelski of Gun Barrel City.

“The bank’s faithful support over many years has enabled LOL to continue its efforts in helping the needy residents of Henderson County,” said project manager Roy Talbot. “We are very thankful for First State Bank of Athens' recognition of the need of helping the less fortunate in our community.”

As people age, the ability to perform simple daily activities that we all take for granted become a challenge. One example would be walking up and down the front door steps. Some are required to have some form of aid, either a walker or a cane. In either case it is not for the faint-hearted.

Betty has numerous health problems including kidney and liver issues and suffered a stroke. The stroke resulted in speech and memory problems. She had a troubled early life that caused her to leave home and get married at 13. Shortly afterwards she became ill during the pregnancy of her only son David. He was born prematurely and spent considerable time in the hospital before coming home. Her husband divorced her shortly after David arrived home. Fortunately her brothers and sisters helped during the early years.

Daniel has been her caretaker since his wife died seven years ago.

Her doctor told him, “She will be going from a walker to a wheelchair within a year,” he said.

The LOL team was comprised of Merritt Harpole, Gary Prewitt, Henry Christner, Charley Young and Roy Talbot, project manager.

 The weather was ideal; a cool wintery day. Under Betty’s watchful eye; the team removed the existing steps which caused her to fall several times, then they constructed a seven foot deep by four foot wide porch and added a 24 foot wheelchair ramp with handrails on both sides.

“Thank God, Thank God,” she said several times.

The end result speaks for itself, she was thrilled.

The volunteer’s 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 our 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” Talbot said.

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 handicap, 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.

It has over 30 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,” Talbot 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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