Volunteers put family in ‘home sweet home’

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 4, 2002

Sudie Palomarez and her four children had no idea that when theyheaded to an Enterprise football game on Oct. 5, 2001, their liveswould completely change in just a few hours.

The Palomarez family returned from the game to find the onlything left of their house was a charred heap of rubble.

A fire that started from a shorted-out wire in a bathroom ventburned their home and belongings beyond recognition.

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They were devastated to learn that none of the childhooddrawings, athletic trophies, photographs or academic awards weresalvageable.

“We lost everything, and I would have never thought anythinggood would come out of it when it happened,” said SudiePalomarez.

Now after an overwhelming amount of love and support from thecommunity, they see a silver lining in that once dark cloud.

Over 150 volunteers have worked to help the Palomarez familybuild a new home during the past few months.

From the beginning of the construction period in December to thefinishing touches being put on this month, the Palomarezes havewatched a new home go up right in front of their eyes.

“When they said they would help, I had no idea it was to thisextent,” said Sudie, holding back a tear. “I didn’t know there werethis many people who knew me, (who would) much less give up theirtime for me.”

The volunteers, many of whom did not even know the Palomarezfamily, began showing up just a couple days after the fire.

Sudie knows it would not have been possible to rebuild withoutthe donations of money, love and labor from the community.

She recalled how she pondered how to put a roof over thefamily’s head again since her insurance policy was not enough tocover the house loan and build a new one. The volunteers made itpossible because she only had to pay for materials, not labor.

Julius “Peck” Vaughn and Richard Douglas told Sudie they wouldlike to offer some assistance, which was hard for her to turn downin her time of need. They have been visible at the house since thefirst work day.

“It was real humbling to start with, because I’ve never been oneto take anything. I’ve always worked for everything I have,” shesaid.

Vaughn and Douglas are part of a group of men in the area whohave offered their skills to others who’ve suffered similartragedies.

“This is the fourth house that the men of the county have helpedrebuild after a fire,” said Vaughn, “and as soon as we finish here,we’re going to help Curtis Posey build his house.” The Posey homewas also destroyed by fire.

The men say the reason behind their efforts is a need to doGod’s work.

“We believe the first two commandments very deeply. Love theLord thy God with all thy might and strength, and Love thy neighboras thyself,” said Douglas, who lives less than two miles from thePalomarez family.

More than 12 churches have been represented during theconstruction period. They have worked together to build a fivebedroom, two bathroom house complete with a laundry room, kitchen,study and dining/living room.

Vaughn and Douglas say they don’t take any credit for their workbecause it is not theirs, it’s a job sent “from above.”

They believe their efforts are small in comparison to the job ofraising a Christian family.

“We can build a house, but Mrs. Sudie has her hands fullbuilding a family, and now she’s got a strong foundation,” saidDouglas.

Being surrounded by kind-hearted volunteers has already made abig impact on Sudie and her children.

They often spend their after-school hours and weekends pitchingin however they can. The men have noted a change in the children’soutlook on life.

“From hearing them talk, I think they learned a lot abouthelping others,” said Douglas.

The children, ranging in age from 10-17, also have shown ininterest in helping build houses for others through Habitat forHumanity of Lincoln County, which often struggles to find volunteerhelp.

Sudie said they have already decided to donate the leftoversupplies, such as bricks and cement blocks, to a needy family.

Although the family lacks a number of important items, they arelooking forward to leaving their small rental trailer and movinginto their new home on Highway 583 soon.

They still lack bedroom furniture, a refrigerator, stove, washerand dryer, but Sudie says they’ll be happy just to have a place tocall “home” once again.

“There’s no way to begin to thank these people for what they didfor my family. Thank you is just not enough,” she said.