Humane Housing

It's easy when one loses herself in paint colors or the search for the perfect light fixture or the ideal corner lot to forget that there are people all over the world who don't have a roof over their heads. It's easy to overlook the reality that there are people in Lexington without a bed to sleep in tonight. It's easy to think that there is nothing one person can do.

Since I'm a soapbox kinda' gal, allow me to climb up on mine.

A few years ago I would have agreed that one person couldn't change much. I have since learned that 10 people can make a huge impact. In the past year, several members of the Church of the Good Shepherd founded Refuge, Inc. The non-profit organization attempts to secure housing for people in all sorts of housing dilemmas.

The idea began to form as reports came from Bosnia of families fleeing the country with no destination or clear plans in mind. This group of people adopted a Bosnian family, providing not only a furnished apartment but also assistance with clothing, in finding jobs and schooling.

From this experience grew a vision of an organization that would purchase a house or duplex to provide a safe place for persons who have come to this country for refuge from wars, human rights abuses and famines in their homelands.

Eventually the vision would include housing for any people in transition.

Most recently Refuge Inc. has expanded its focus to include Lexingtonians. When in a series of articles the Herald-Leader exposed negligent landlords and uninhabitable rental homes, citations were issued and many residents became homeless. To provide housing for these people until something more permanent becomes available, members of Good Shepherd and Refuge Inc. are renovating and furnishing a transitional housing unit.

These people donate their time and talents but they need money. To pay the bills they organize a fund-raiser in the form of a dinner/auction every year. I think this should be the point were I admit that this is personal and that I'm about to move in for the donation. It is personal because I am the chairperson responsible for procuring all the money that Refuge Inc. needs for the year. I thought that I couldn't do a thing to enact change yet a year later I am gathering the money needed to make significant improvements in many people's lives.

So here is what you can do to make a difference: come to the Gala, tickets are $35. Or donate something to the auction. A gentleman called me the other day to donate an ark with hand-carved animals that he made himself. A lady called yesterday to donate a rug off of her floor. I am amazed and overwhelmed by people's generosity. It seems when given a chance and an opportunity, most people really do want to give to others.

I chose to write about 605 Boonesboro Avenue because first, it is an interesting house in an interesting neighborhood and secondly, because it belonged to an interesting lady who was something of an activist and whom I think would have approved of my plea.

When Janet Evens bought the traditional T-plan cottage in 1977 it had everything she wanted except a kitchen. So she added one. Then she added a 700 square foot studio behind it.

A front porch runs the width of the front of the house and a deck runs along the back. Inside, heart-pine floors and fireplaces in every room lend a cozy feeling to the cottage.

The upstairs bedrooms are filled with sunlight and French doors allow the sun to shine into the hall.

I think that is what most people who live in mansions and tenements want, that little patch of sunlight falling on one's own patch of floor. I'm just glad that I can be part of a force that makes that available to all people.

The Gala Dinner and Auction, which benefits Refuge, Inc. will be held at Artsplace on February 17. To donate auction items or purchase tickets, call 225-1344 or email lsims@aceweekly.com.

605 Boonesboro Avenue


3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms

Contact Laura Wikoff 396-4811

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.