“I just want to thank everyone for what their doing and the work,” said 86-year-old Ruby Terrell “I’m just proud.”
HOUSTON — Last month, community leaders, volunteers and businesses came together to completely remodel a Southeast Houston 86-year-old woman’s home for free.
On Saturday, the community presented Ruby Terrell with her freshly remodeled home.
“I just want to thank everyone for what their doing and the work,” she said. “I’m just proud.”
Terrell has lived in the house on Gibbons Street, in Smith Addition, since 1969, when she and her husband purchased it. Mr. Terrell, a World War II veteran, died in the mid-1980s, but Mrs. Terrell continued to live there.
The effects of time and exposure to the elements have led the home to develop significant deferred maintenance.
“I couldn’t do anything,” said Terrell, who walks with a cane and is on a fixed income.
In the fall of 2021, Ruby’s son, Sam, worked with Janice Carter, who grew up in this tight-knit community and works with the local civic club, to fix up the house.
When Sam passed away in December, Carter didn’t give up.
“We felt like we’ve got to come in here and we’ve gotta help her,” said Carter.
“The outpouring was just amazing,” said Richard Rodriguez, Housing Director for Tejano Center for Community Concerns. “These guys couldn’t wait to help, and then it facilitated other organizations joining in. Lowe’s donated all the appliances. Dominion Air has donated a central air system. This house has never had a central air system.
Rodriguez says due to the extent of the damage, crews took the home down to the studs and are creating “literally a brand-new house” with about $35,000 worth of new electrical, plumbing, flooring, a bathroom, and a kitchen.
Once work started, Tejano Center covered the cost of relocating Terrell to a hotel and putting her belongings in a storage unit.
Meanwhile, Carter’s heard from other neighbors wanting help.
“This is their home, and we want them to stay here,” said Carter. “We want to help them any kind of way that we can.
She and others hope Terrell’s home renovation can be the first step in preserving a neighborhood.