Volunteers Complete $175,000 Renovations For Blind Woman Who Bought Unfit Home

By Charla Young

(LOUISVILLE, November 22nd, 2004) -- In May, we told you about Lois June Jackson, a blind woman who bought a home that turned out to be unlivable. When the community learned that the seller apparently took advantage of the fact that Lois couldn't see numerous problems in the home, volunteers pitched in and transformed it into her dream home. WAVE 3's Charla Young was there when she moved back in.

It became a $175,000 labor of love.

When we met Lois, who has been blind since birth, she told us for as long as she can remember she has wanted one thing: "a house with an upstairs, a front and back porch and all that stuff."

In September of 2002, Lois thought her dream had finally come true when she purchased a home at 105 Keats Avenue.

But the home had problems that Lois couldn't see -- multi-colored vinyl siding, walls pocked with holes, next to non-existent insulation, exposed pipes, a chimney falling into the living room, a sump pump on a dirt cellar floor, and the back of the house was separating from the front.

The furnace, which was installed by a contractor hired by the seller, Mike Mackin, wasn't vented properly, meaning it was releasing dangerous fumes into the home. City inspectors shut off gas to the home in June, deeming the furnace unsafe.

But the worst insult for Lois was the bathroom, where a bathtub sat in a pile of dirt. "To be perfectly honest, I felt so stupid." And whenever she took a bath, Lois says "I felt like I was washing in filth."

That was then. This is now. After hearing about Lois's plight, Herb Toler of Laneh Home Builders volunteered as the general contractor to rebuild the home.

In just four months, more than 80 agencies and over 200 volunteers pooled their resources, talent and time to completely remodel the home from the from the inside out. In fact, builders added another 500 square feet of living area to the existing home.

Most volunteers worked a 24-hour shift to make sure the home was ready in time.

The newly remodeled home now features two bedrooms, a new kitchen, a beautiful bathroom, an open living room, a laundry room and a back porch -- something Lois has never had before but has always wanted.

Since Lois is blind, volunteers made sure her home is equipped with a special thermostat -- one that announces the temperature at the touch of a button.

HDDS President Milton Haskins says Kentuckiana -- no matter what the color or background -- united to make a difference. "What I'm really overwhelmed about and feel blessed is that this was not a minority effort nor a majority effort -- this was a community effort."

"I just want to thank everybody," said an emotional Lois. "You've given me the gift of a dream-come-true, plus my faith in mankind is back again," Lois said.

Click here for a list of businesses that pitched in to help rebuild Lois Jackson's home.

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Online Reporter: Charla Young

Online Producer: Michael Dever