One Simple Good Deed Leads to Renovation of House

Post a Comment » Written on July 10th, 2008     
Filed under: News
HILMAR, CA (July 10, 2008) – The members of Hilmar Covenant Church just wanted to do a good deed last November. They were going to wash the windows of a house in which 95-year-old Phoebe lived.

They never imagined the good deed would lead them to remodel the home of the woman who is affectionately known as the “cat lady of Hilmar.” The experience also has led to a budding interfaith relationship with members of an area Jewish synagogue.

In November the church began what has become a monthly practice of replacing the traditional Sunday worship service with a community outreach initiative – members divide into groups and do service projects in the community. One group was washing peoples’ windows and knocked on Phoebe’s door to ask if they could do hers.

PhoebeShe enthusiastically agreed. After cleaning the outside of the windows, the team asked to come inside. They were shocked by what they found.

More than a dozen cats were living in the house, which had not been cleaned in a long time. Garbage was piling up. “The smell was horrid,” says Dan Johnson, associate pastor of the Hilmar church.

But the church members quickly decided they wanted to help Phoebe with more than the windows. Over six months, member Chris Waterson repeatedly returned to the home and gained Phoebe’s trust, which eventually ended in permission for the church to remodel the home. The accompanying photo shows Phoebe in her new kitchen. To see more views of the work, visit Good Deed.

During a seven-day period in early June, roughly 40 volunteers of all ages transformed the house. Church members rounded up the cats. A local veterinarian volunteered to spay and neuter a majority of the cats. Some were sent to local dairies, and others were put down because they were diseased.

A couple in the church let Phoebe stay at their bed and breakfast while the house was being remodeled.

The workers removed carpets, linoleum, and every item in the home. They scrubbed the sub-flooring several times. Donations of money from individuals and items from local merchants enabled the group make over the entire house.

“It was just a blast,” says Johnson.

Adding to the fun was working alongside six women from an area synagogue who heard of the church’s ministry. As it turned out, Phoebe had attended the synagogue years before.

When the work was completed, two women from Hilmar Covenant took Phoebe through her “new” house. She was in awe of what had been done.

Church members also continue to visit and deepen their friendship with Phoebe. She no longer has cats inside the house.

Meanwhile, the synagogue members were so impressed by the church’s compassion, they invited the congregation to join them for a Friday night service at the synagogue. The Hilmar church plans to attend August 1.

The experience has inspired the church to consider who else it might help. “People are asking, “What can we do next?” Johnson says. “It really stretched their thinking of who we are.”

Editor’s note: Phoebe’s last name was intentionally withheld to protect her privacy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog