By Alecia Reid, CBS Philly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity are helping a family get home for the holidays, showing that even in tough times there are always people willing to lend a hand and a hammer. It was a welcomed Thanksgiving surprise for the Freemans.
There was turkey, fixings and enough food to create a great dinner. What could have been a terrible holiday season is turning out to be something quite special for this family.
“They’re giving us a whole Thanksgiving, dinner, and everything,” Elsie Freeman said.
The team from Habitat for Humanity’s Philadelphia Critical Home Repair program surprised the couple with a Thanksgiving treat. But what’s even more crucial is their home that was in need of extensive repairs.
“Moneywise, I didn’t have all the money to get things done,” Leroy Freeman said.
The bathroom and kitchen are being renovated.
“You couldn’t really walk on the floors in the kitchen. The bathroom, it was really bad,” Elsie said.
To fix their electrical problems, the house is also being rewired. Add to that, a new heating system.
“Thank God for Habitat, without it things would be rough,” Leroy said.
After getting hurt on the job, Leroy has been out on disability. Elsie depends on her Social Security. The money it would cost to pay for needed repairs is overwhelming.
“We couldn’t have did it by ourselves,” Elsie said.
While crews hammer away, the family is now staying at Habitat’s first-ever guest house.
“What’s in there is really meant to be a warm and welcoming place that’s well set up for the families,” KC Roney, senior director of programs at Habitat for Humanity, said.
That includes internet and cable.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Freemans’ home will be transformed into a safe, warm, and dry place.
“They’re able to be in the Freemans home really jamming through the project,” Roney said.
Usually, crews work while families are home, but that’s not possible during the pandemic.
“They can go ahead and do what they want because we’re not in their way and they’re not in our way,” Elsie said.
For now, the duo can take it easy and enjoy a stress-free holiday.
“It’s like a vacation away with no headaches, no problem,” Elsie said.
Habitat for Humanity paused its home repair programs for a number of months, then the guest house idea launched. In the past 10 years, the program served nearly 600 families in the city.
The hope is that they’ll be able to continue their project throughout the pandemic.