Audria Singleton posted a video on ReasonToGive.com, a website run by a non-profit agency based in Humboldt Park. Reason to Give offers a way for low-income families make direct requests to people who might be able to help. Singleton had initially approached the group asking for a computer for her children.
"When the kids go to school they need to do their homework and then the teacher ask them to go look for stuff and internet," Singleton said.
But when the group's executive director Shannon Medic visited the Singleton's house as part of their vetting process, she had a different idea.
"The house was falling apart and I didn't think that we could just give them shoes and coats and school supplies and that that would be enough to make a real difference. So, this was a special project. It's not something we normally do," Medic said.
She decided to completely renovate the family's house.
"We got materials from Home Depot, from the ReBuilding Exchange, from World Vision," Medic said. "We put it in our newsletter an on Facebook and Twitter and people were actually really excited to come volunteer. We have people in there who have never done anything but who were like oh I'll come and paint and just help out and then we have other people who are skilled. They are carpenters and I don't know, they just give up their time."
About 100 volunteers painted, replaced the plumbing, installed new flooring. Professionals even remediated mold. Furniture and appliances were all donated. Stacey Meyers organized a group of friends on the North Shore to sponsor several families, including the Singletons at Christmas. She says it felt natural to follow through.
"When I met them over the holidays, they were so appreciative and they really sort of touched my heart. They don't even really know me but I feel like I know them and so I just really wanted to be able to help," Meyer said.
Singleton, who is a wife, mother of two and also a reverend, says she is humbled by the kindness of strangers.
"The Bible says 'love. Love thy neighbor' and they're here loving on me. Don't know me, don't know nothing about me, may not ever see me any other day, but that is the greatest thing," Singleton said.
The Singletons have owned their home for about 10 years and say it started to fall into disrepair after both adults fell ill. Singleton then lost her job as medical bills continued to mount.
Reason to Give plans to also offer family counseling to help keep the family on track in the long-term. Watch the Singleton's video and learn more about Reason to Give at reasontogive.com.