Kim Williams said she has been given an extension — until next Friday — by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services to see if the many volunteers helping are able get her dilapidated trailer on Upper Bethany Road into a more livable condition.
Previously, Williams said DFCS had given her until Thursday to make repairs to the house, or the agency would take Austin, 12, and Ashley, 14, into custody. Austin has Down syndrome and is deaf and mute.
Williams said the support she’s received during the ordeal will change everything for her family.
“It will,” Williams said. “It most definitely has already. It’s something from God above, that’s for sure … I think that, with all the help that I’ve gotten, if I keep looking forward instead of backward, I won’t ever get in this situation again.”
The trailer was in a ramshackle condition, after years of wear and tear and thrifty repairs to the roof, walls and floors. Clutter of all kinds had also collected in the yard, because, Williams said, she couldn’t afford to have it hauled off.
She said she’s been trying her best since 2006, when her husband, the children’s father, died of a heart attack, but low, part-time wages and few opportunities for better employment have made it difficult.
The volunteers started coming to the family’s home last week and continued to grow in number after local and Atlanta media coverage of their efforts started Thursday.
By Friday afternoon, so many people were offering to help and parking had grown so short, there were plans to shuttle volunteers from Clayton Elementary on Saturday.
As the good Samaritans continued to gather, a giant mound of trash the volunteers had made from all the clutter found in the yard was almost all gone, thanks to a donated dumpster. The kids’ rooms were also being worked on.
Organizations and businesses chipped in as well, according to volunteer Amanda Beckmann, who has been working with Williams’ friend Brandy Godfrey to organize the efforts.
A donation of $3,500 in materials came from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Home Depot of Canton gave a deep discount on materials. Dalton Carpet gave carpet. Complete Heating and Air of Atlanta donated a new air conditioner.
A new roof was donated by Cherokee resident Corky Ingalls, Beckmann said.
Williams said she can’t wait for the kids to see the result after the work is done.
“It looks really good,” she said of the progress Friday.
In the meantime, Ashley and Austin have been staying with Williams’ mother in Cumming. Her older son, Scott, has been allowed to stay at the house because he’s 17 and has been helping with the work. While the younger kids are ready to come home, Williams said the trying situation has brought out the best in them.
“They’re doing better than I thought they would,” she said. “They are stepping up to the plate.”
She added with a laugh: “My daughter, she’s helping with my son 100 times more than what I thought she would.”
Anyone wanting to help is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.