Community steps up to help 69-year-old afraid of losing home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of the Jacksonville community have stepped up to help a 69-year-old woman who was in fear of being forced from her home because of code violations.

Shirley Johnson (pictured below) has lived in her Northwest Jacksonville home her whole life. Now, thanks to the help of volunteers, she'll continue to do so.

Those volunteers began with repairs to the roof, the reason the city said her home was unsafe to live in.

Johnson got a letter from the city telling her that her home needed be up to code by Friday, otherwise her electricity might be turned off. But Johnson couldn't afford the repairs needed to stay in her home.

After Channel 4 told the story about her situation earlier this week, people in the community stepped up to do something about it.

Shirley Johnson
Shirley Johnson

"I'm sitting at home complaining about losing my job, and then I saw this thing on TV about how the lady was going to lose her house, and I was like, 'You know what? I think I have it bad?'" volunteer Tom Stephens said.

"Nowhere to go, you know. She didn't want to lose her home, and it just touched my heart, especially when she said she wanted to stay here," volunteer Steve Bozeman said.

Around the outside of her home, much-needed repairs are being done, taking care of mold, mildew, cracks and holes.

Johnson said her prayers are being answered.

"That was something when I found out how much people care about you, the love they have," she said. "Because, you know, nine times out of 10, people forget about the elderly."

The helpers are all strangers to Johnson, but she said she loves them for helping her.

"It means so much to have these men come up and say they are willing to help because they have a parent and their parent could get in that predicament," Johnson said.

"When I first met her, I was like, 'OK, I'll be back tomorrow, supplies and everything,'" Stephens said. "And she was crying, and I said, 'Hey, it's going to be OK. We're going to take care of it for you.'"

When volunteers went to buy supplies, they told Home Depot about the woman in need, so the store donated all of the supplies, including the paint.

Johnson said she's grateful but knows there are other elderly people in the same situation. Volunteers agree more should be done to help those who can't help themselves.

"I think we need to look at our disability people and our older people," Bozeman said. "I mean, they need help. Things are expensive and their income that they get on disability is not enough to cover repairs like this."

Johnson was approved for a 30-day extension, so the city will come back then to make sure everything is up to code.

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