By: Tina Bryson
STAFFORDSVILLE, Ky. — The unimaginable happened to Willie Owens in the summer of 2018 the day before Father’s Day when a riding lawn mower accident left him needing major handicap-accessible renovations at his home. However, the communal spirit of his Appalachian neighbors, including Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), provided the help Willie and his family needed.
“CAP was on site shortly after the accident making his home safe, warm, and dry,” said Ron Morrow, CAP housing crew leader. Morrow had been approached by his home church, Highlands Church of Christ, to see if CAP could help the Owens family. “We worked for 3 months to make sure to take care of everything. We didn’t want to leave Willie and his family any type of burden to have to deal with related to their home.”
Owens, who lost both legs and his left arm up to his elbow in the accident, was in the hospital for two months. The married father of two prayed that God would help him.
“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who helped me and my family,” Owens said. “I had started some projects myself, but after the accident, I just wasn’t sure how I could get it done. Then when I got home, CAP had finished all of the projects I had started and more. I am very thankful for all that CAP and the community have done. It has been a blessing.”
The community pulled together and hosted several fundraisers to help the Owens family with medical bills and other essential expenses. In fact, in August, a few months after his accident, while friends and neighbors collected funds to help Owens, CAP worked on the Owens home as a part of BuildUP, an annual initiative that provides an opportunity for community volunteers to serve on a one-day service project with CAP.
CAP’s Housing and Elderly Housing programs combined staff and volunteers to install a new roof, exterior doors, and windows; added handicap-accessible ramps, bathroom, and living room; and added insulation, repaired the underpinning, and exterior siding. In addition, new closets were built and the house was painted.
“Willie and his wife Jessica had talked before the accident about making the much-needed repairs to their home,” said Jamie Conley, Housing coordinator. “His family has been very positive. They have truly shown what it’s like to believe in God’s will. Willie said that everything they talked about CAP came in and made happen. God had his hand right in the middle of this whole situation.”
The Owens family has been helped by donors who provided financial support and community partners such as Highlands Church of Christ, WSIP radio station where Willie was employed before his accident, and his Johnson Central High School classmates. Willie and his wife Jessica have two children ages 5 and 2.