PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Jeffery Hughes’ neighbors said it was a quiet Sunday afternoon in March of 2020 when the crash of a tree falling on his home shocked everyone.
Hughes said he walked outside in a daze, to see his home nearly destroyed.
“It was really scary that Sunday morning when we heard the boom,” said his next-door neighbor Reverend Irene Lewis-Wimbley.
She said she could not stand to see the house succumb to blight.
“The house would have been a total loss,” she said. “And just another statistic of the 700 and some empty lots and dilapidated homes on the south side.”
At the end of 2020, Lewis-Wimbley started a GoFundMe for Hughes. She said she knew the house would be ruined from the elements if they did not raise money to fix the roof.
A local veteran’s group, the Central Illinois Veteran’s Warriors, along with some of Lewis-Wimbley’s church friends, volunteered their time to help rebuild the roof for free.
The volunteers worked all morning Sunday, April 25. This was a week after helpers had to clear and gut the entire basement.
Money raised from the GoFundMe helped with the new roof, but Lewis-Wimbley said they still need about $5,000.
Lewis-Wimbley is the director of a Community Development Corporation, the South Side Community Center, which will officially launch June 1, 2021, and said helping her neighbor meets a similar goal to the program.
“We want to take on properties and develop them for first-time homebuyers that are going through our program called ‘Pathway of Hope,'” Lewis-Wimbley said.