Students make woman's home wheelchair-friendly

77-year-old disabled woman now able to live comfortably

Fannie May Johns
Fannie May Johns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Graduate students from the University of St. Augustine are making a difference in the life of a disabled 77-year-old woman.

Fannie May Johns has had several strokes and relies on a wheelchair to get around but her Hastings home, which isn't wheelchair friendly.

Johns has lived there for about 20 years, and her children take turns staying with her because she can't take care of herself.

"God knows, he knows we need help, so he put on y'all's heart to come out and help us," said Sandra Thomas, Johns' daughter.

Johns couldn't live comfortably in her own home because it's not designed for a wheelchair. She could no longer get into her bedroom or bathroom. She had to sleep, bathe and attend to her private needs in the living room.

That's why the university, along with St. Johns Housing Partnership, is making home modifications for her.

"This is really important because it keeps people in their homes," professor Julie Watson said. "Otherwise Mrs. Johns would be still living in her living room. But today, because of what the students have done, she'll be able to spend the night in her bedroom and use her bathroom and have privacy and the quality of life she hasn't had for about a year."

As part of a course at the university, students raised nearly $3,000 to fix up the home, something St. Johns Housing Partnership does regularly.

"Every day being out in the world, every day we take for granted going outside going to the bathroom when we want to go," said Susan Giddens, of St. Johns Housing Partnership. "When you're elderly and disabled and you can't get out of your home, those are things they are unable to do."

If you want to help Johns or other people in a similar situation, go to www.sjhp.org.

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