South Dallas family gets home makeover
By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
Photography by Lauren Hollon Sturdy, Chelsea Quackenbush and Johnny Flowers
“I live in a mansion now,” said Clementine Gulley. She became emotional as she toured each room in her apartment last Friday, marveling at the wingback chairs and coordinating sofa, new beds and mattresses, a shiny set of pots and pans, and art prints adorning the walls of every room.
The previous day, she learned a group would be coming from Buckner to give her home a makeover. Gulley suffered a stroke three and a half months ago. Though she’s regaining strength, the apartment she shares with her 4-year-old grandson DeAndre and two of her children – 17-year-old Kenneth and 7-year-old Shanice – had fallen into a dire state while she was recovering.
“Because Ms. Gulley suffered a stroke a little while ago, everything just went downhill after that,” said Johnny Flowers, assistant director of domestic aid and assistance for Buckner. “Now, she’s back to doing better, but their place had become infested with bugs.”
Flowers has known the Gulley family for a while now; they occasionally attend Wynnewood Fellowship Church Empowerment Center, where Flowers serves as pastor. When he learned about what the Gulleys were going through, he knew a home makeover would be a simple way to show love and share hope.
The infestation meant that the little furniture they had – old, worn-out mattresses and linens, a broken bedframe and a couple of sagging sofas – had to be thrown out. Flowers spent last Thursday evening getting rid of the furniture, spraying each room and treating the carpet. Every room became a blank canvas, except for the well-stocked and perfectly organized pantry – a point of pride for Gulley, who likes to keep her pantry “just so.”
On Friday afternoon Flowers parked a loaded Buckner truck by the curb in front of the apartment and the 21-person team got to work. Half the team unloaded furniture, mattresses, linens, kitchenware, wall art, lamps, a TV, potted plants and more, spreading everything out across the front lawn. Inside, the other half of the team busily vacuumed, scrubbed cabinets and counters, disinfected bathrooms, cleaned windows and dusted.
Gulley and the kids sat in folding camp chairs on one side of the living room, watching as their living space was transformed. Gulley called her mother at one point, telling her, “Mom, they’ve brought a new microwave, dishes, silverware. They even hung pictures on the wall, Mom.”
She was overcome with emotion several times during the few hours the team was there – when she was consulted about where the new TV should go; when Jackie Belt, director of domestic aid and assistance, took her outside to select her furniture from the assortment on the lawn; and when she saw her new four-poster bed and the youngest kids’ Disney-themed cartoon bedding and curtains.
“When you know there’s a need in the community you serve in, it’s very important that we show you a sermon rather than preach you one,” Flowers said. “We focus on meeting people where they are and becoming that living epistle. We’re being ‘Jesus with skin on.’”
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Do you have new or gently used furniture, clothing or other household items you'd like to donate to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas? Call 214-367-8080 to find out what the greatest needs are and how you might help!