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Jemison resident inspired Christmas spirit

Work in progress: Alberta Archie’s Jemison home offered less-than-ideal living conditions for the 81-year-old and her handicapped grandson, until community members came together to remodel the structure. (Contributed photos)

Work in progress: Alberta Archie’s Jemison home offered less-than-ideal living conditions for the 81-year-old and her handicapped grandson, until community members came together to remodel the structure. (Contributed photos)

By Whitney DensonSpecial to the Advertiser

One Jemison resident inspired Christmas spirit throughout the community this year.

Before passing away on Dec. 22, Alberta Archie witnessed the community coming together for the purpose of remodeling her home in Jemison.

On Dec. 13, family friend Shane Robinson visited 81-year-old Archie at her home, according to Robinson’s wife, Kim Robinson.

“He just started taking things out,” Kim Robinson said. “Then word got around to Mrs. Archie’s family and local churches and the community.

“We were just going to clean up the house, but it led to brand new walls, brand new floors, brand new everything.”

In addition to Archie, the residence was also home to her grandson, and one of the biggest challenges in remodeling the home was to meet the handicap needs of both residents.

Home sweet home: Archie never saw the renovations completed but knew about and appreciated what was being done.

Home sweet home: Archie never saw the renovations completed but knew about and appreciated what was being done.

When the work began, Archie and her grandson temporarily moved in with the Robinson family until Archie had to be hospitalized for health complications.

During Archie’s stay in the hospital, the community relentlessly worked to have her home ready by Christmas and her homecoming.

“We’ve had 10 to 25 people every day that just show up to help,” Robinson said. “It’s unbelievable how many donations and help we’ve had in the process.”

Donations included construction supplies, a new metal roof, carpet, paint, furniture, clothes, food and more.

“It’s impossible to know just how many churches, businesses and individuals have helped,” Robinson said. “People have been coming out of the wood work.”

The process began with a removal of furniture and a gutting of walls and floors.

Next, the crew started cleaning and replacing “everything,” from the roof to the carpet.

Volunteer Julie Smith was also in awe of the community involvement in the project.

“Mrs. Archie has always taken care of everybody,” Smith said. “It was our turn to give back to her.”

Not only were the volunteers concerned with the appearance of the home, but also the safety and convenience.

With hours of labor put into the remodeling process, Robinson and Smith agreed that it is the heart of the community that made Archie’s “gift” possible.

“With all of the bad news lately, it is so nice to see the community coming together for something that has no boundaries in religion or race or anything,” Smith said. “This is what Christmas is all about.”

Just nine days after beginning the renovations, Robinson and other volunteers were putting the “finishing touches” on the home, putting down new carpet and painting the walls.

According to Robinson, hundreds of volunteers and generous community members lent a hand in the remodeling process in less than two weeks.

On Dec. 22, Archie passed away after surgery, and the community mourned the loss of the woman that brought them together.

“Mrs. Archie had so much joy in her heart,” Robinson said. “She was one of those ladies who was always smiling, no matter what.”

Funeral services will be held Saturday at New Convert Baptist Church.

Though Archie never got to see the renovations to her home completed, she knew about and appreciated what was being done.

“Every year, our church has a group that takes her a fruit basket and sings Christmas carols,” Robinson said. “This year, the group came during the day we began working on the home. She had tears rolling down her face, and she said it was because of all the kindness.”