Reindeer Gang: Macon woman needs new roof on century-old house

egrisamore@macon.comNovember 27, 2013 

Reindeer_Wiley

Seventy-five-year-old Lelia Wiley needs a roof and new ceilings in her home. Wiley is a great-grandmother who suffered a stroke and is living in a 113-year-old house. Every time it rains, they have to put out trash cans to catch the water in the living room. The entire roof needs to be replaced.

WOODY MARSHALL/THE TELEGRAPH — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

  • Most of us will gather with loved ones today, Thanksgiving Day, and acknowledge our blessings. Many of our neighbors, though, are struggling with challenges — many beyond their control — that are taking a toll on their daily lives. The Reindeer Gang is an annual Telegraph feature that identifies individuals and families with needs during the holidays, in hopes that Telegraph readers can help remedy those problems. Donations for the Lelia Wiley family can be made at the Fuller Center for Housing of Macon, P.O. Box 18148, Macon, GA 31209 or by phone at 478-972-2244. Donations also can be made at The Fuller Center for Housing in Macon by clicking the donate online tab, checking the “specific fund” box and selecting “Wiley Residence Roof Renovation” from the drop-down menu.

Lelia Wiley doesn’t have to look out the window to know if it’s raining.

It pours through a giant hole in the ceiling. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren sometimes have to push all the furniture to the center of the living room and bring out a trash can to catch the waterfall.

Nothing like having an over-sized rain gauge inside the front door. Or making jokes about having to watch TV with an umbrella. There is also a hole in the ceiling of the front bedroom where the rain splashes through.

The white, one-story house at 1245 Holt Ave. was built in 1900. It is 1,656 square feet and is made of wood, with a cinder-block base.

Wiley is 75 years old and lives on her monthly Social Security check. She was a longtime nurse’s assistant at The Medical Center of Central Georgia and worked for several years as a nanny for the family of Rick and Katherine Hutto.

She suffered a stroke 10 years ago, which left her with a speech impairment. She also has battled severe diabetes for more than 30 years and has lost two toes, which have added to her mobility problems.

She pays her household bills and utilities out of her monthly fixed income and manages to tithe regularly to her church, Greater Friendship Baptist.

Still, there are too many holes at the end of the money.

The Fuller Center for Housing is a faith-based organization headquartered in Americus, with an office in Macon. Its mission is to provide adequate housing and shelter for people in need. It was started in 2005 by the late Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda, who were co-founders of Habitat for Humanity.

Dianne Fuller, director of the Macon center, said Wiley’s home was referred to the Fuller Center for Housing of Macon in September by Rebuilding Macon, which no longer undertakes roofing projects because of possible liability issues.

Fuller took one look at the roof.

“It has no life in it,’’ she said. “She needs a dry, safe place for her family. It’s not just the water damage to the roof, but there is the danger of the ceiling collapsing.’’

Fuller said she has talked to a local roofing company about getting the materials donated by a distributor. Raising money to replace the interior ceilings, attic insulation and any electrical work must be addressed. She estimated the cost of the project at about $4,000.

A collection was taken up Sunday at Greater Friendship Baptist for Wiley and her family.

Two gray tarps have been obtained through the housing services department of the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council.

Wiley has one daughter (Janice Floyd), five grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Two of her great-granddaughters live with her, and the others spend significant time under the leaky roof.

The family will celebrate Thanksgiving dinner at the house today. It remains the family hub for most holidays, birthdays and other activities.