For Della Reed, everything in her Sacramento home is a memory.
There's the sign she painted years ago that reads, "A small home holds as much happiness as a big one." A quilt her mother made. Kitschy hats. And even an old flannel shirt that belonged to her late husband, Bill, a veteran, father and the love of her life for nearly 30 years.
Together, they shared the small home on North Avenue in Sacramento. That's where they raised his kids, and where she cared for him when he got sick.
In 2015, Bill lost his fight and Della was worried she could lose that house, too.
"Everything had to be let go when Bill got sick, because that was the priority, so nothing else could be done," she explained.
Put off repairs were now major problems. The siding was falling off, the porches falling down and the roof, she said, needed serious replacement.
"When that really bad rain and wind came, you could literally see pieces coming off," Della recalls.
There was a list of problems she could no longer afford to put off, yet couldn't afford to fix.
"Financially it wasn't going to happen," she said. "I called every number I could think of. Any resource, HUD, any kind of resource I thought might help -- and there wasn’t any."
But then Della saw a story on TV about Habitat for Humanity and their program to help low-income homeowners update and repair their homes. She worked diligently to get an application in and ultimately was accepted.
Over the past few months, she has opened her home to hundreds of volunteers.
"It was like a swarm they just swarm the place," Della said, "And everyone was doing something. I mean every window in my house there were people doing stuff."
The volunteers put on a new roof and siding, added more insulation and even put trim around the windows.
"It's wonderful. It's just magnificent," Della said beaming.
But while the outside of her home now has a whole new look, it's what was saved on the inside that means the most.
"It means everything to have my home," she said. "Now I will continue to live and I will live out the remainder of my life in my home, with my memories."
A construction project that restored much more than just a home.
"It seems really extreme but I do believe that Habitat for Humanity saved my life," she explained. "Because I was desperate, I was feeling very, very hopeless like there’s no hope, there’s no hope. But there was hope. There really are people in the world that care.”
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