On any given day, she might be feeding a homeless man, sheltering a single mom or renting a room to a senior citizen. Dorothy’s door is always open and her heart is always for those in need.
So when Suzette Reeves was introduced to Dorothy through a friend and saw how this long-time resident of Duluth’s Hill District had some needs of her own, she jumped into action.
“She has serious health problems: COPD, congestive heart failure, horrible arthritis in her knees and more,” Suzette said. “But she’ll say ‘you know, I feel terrible today but I’m going to do the best I can to get to the stove’ so she can cook for, and take care of, others. It’s very painful for her to get around, plus she uses a walker, which means getting up the stairs into her home was almost impossible.
“She needed a ramp and I knew who to call – Home Repairs Ministries. I had heard about them through our church and because my husband plays in the annual golf tournament. I reached out to them to see if they could build her a ramp, and they did.”
And not only did Home Repairs build a ramp for Dorothy, they also rebuilt her rotting deck and did numerous smaller jobs including window caulking and electrical work.
Throughout Dorothy’s story there are numerous instances of God showing up in big and small ways. Take her deck, for instance.
When Suzette asked Home Repairs’ Executive Director Mark Wolfe about building a new deck, he immediately knew the price of lumber would be an issue. But Suzette had an idea.
“I thought of my stepmom, who’s not even my stepmom anymore because she divorced my dad about 20 years ago. I haven’t even seen her in 20 years but I know she’s been very successful in the lumber business,” Suzette said. “And we’ve kept in touch through email and things so I thought I’d just tell her about my friend Dorothy and see if maybe she could provide lumber at cost – or something. I wasn’t even sure what.”
So Suzette wrote to her former stepmom, told her Dorothy’s story and how she’s dedicated her life to helping others, even when she doesn’t have much herself.
“My former stepmom ended up telling me to go to Home Depot, price out the lumber and tell her how much it was – and then she wrote a check for that lumber,” Suzette said. “I called Mark and said ‘The craziest thing happened, the Lord led me to get in touch with my former stepmother and she ended up paying for all the lumber’!”
For Dorothy, having Home Repairs take care of big and small needs has been a huge blessing.
“They’re awesome people and I greatly, greatly appreciate what they’ve done,” Dorothy said. “I thank them from the bottom of my heart because you don’t find people like this every day – people working together, being so polite and kind to me.
“And Suzette – she’s my angel who has helped make all this happen. They’re all angels.”
Suzette, her friends, the Home Repairs team and others have helped make it possible for Dorothy to continue living in her home. It’s the same home her parents owned and lived in until they passed away. Dorothy herself has lived there for 30 years.
“Dorothy’s neighborhood is a prime example of many seniors wanting to stay in their homes for as long as possible,” said Mark Wolfe, Home Repairs’ executive director. “Most — if not all — are on fixed incomes and find it difficult to pay for the repairs needed for them to stay safe in their homes. We’ve been able to do repair work on 16 homes so far in Dorothy’s neighborhood, the Hill District. We are glad to help and remind them that they are not forgotten.”
And for people like Suzette, watching how Home Repairs meets needs for homeowners like Dorothy has been rewarding.
“This is a woman of God who loves people in need,” Suzette said. “She’s always saying ‘the Lord put these angels in my life’ and we’re telling her ‘No, no, Dorothy, you don’t understand. WE are so, so blessed to know YOU!
“These [the people Home Repairs serves] are people living with things that have been broken for who knows how long, possibly a decade or more, and the joy that they experience having these simple things repaired is huge. I am deeply grateful that Home Repairs meets people in their need – that God is providing a way through them.”