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Veteran Repair Program Stories

Jimmy and Joyce Ray

Joyce Ray opens a photo album and flips through the pages documenting the beautiful flower garden she had cultivated.  It has been such a great source of pride as she recounts the many neighbors who admired it through the years.

“They said it looked like a magazine, and that they couldn’t wait until spring to go by and see what I had,” says Joyce.

“All those pictures…we used to keep our yard like that,” says her husband, Jimmy.  “And now it’s gone.”

The couple has lived in Harford County for 50 years, since the year they got married. They moved to their home in Havre de Grace 10 years later.  Sadly, a series of medical issues over the past year have made it impossible for Joyce to keep up with the garden she loved.

While Joyce broke her foot years earlier, her biggest health problems came within the past year when she suffered a silent stroke.  That was followed by a mini stroke at her home last July which landed her in the hospital.  While in the hospital, Joyce had a third stroke.  She is now paralyzed on the left side of her body and uses a wheelchair to get around.  She had surgery on a hematoma in her left hand, but it’s due to the stroke that her hand remains in a sling.  Jimmy, a colon cancer survivor, is the major caregiver for his wife. 

Their daughter, Theresa Jackson, has been very involved in trying to get Joyce some help in leaving the house.  She initially found someone who could donate a portable ramp but the Rays found it to be too slick and dangerous to use in bad weather.  Jimmy would have to push Joyce’s wheelchair across the wet lawn to get to their car parked in the driveway – a very difficult feat.  So, Theresa helped her parents fill out a Repair Program application and they sent it to Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna for consideration.  Their application was approved.  

Volunteers came to build the accessible ramp which was funded through Thrivent Builds Repairs, a program that focuses on helping complete external repairs on existing homes. 

“We appreciate it so, so much,” says Joyce.  “When you see someone giving their heart and soul to something and not expecting anything for it…they’re good people.  It’s nice to know there are people like that out there.”

“I would definitely recommend Habitat,” says Jimmy.  “They do excellent work.  They help people who really need to be helped, and who can’t help themselves.”

Now Joyce has a ramp that leads all the way to the driveway.  Her goal is to try to regain some of her strength by using the grip rail attached to the ramp.  In fact, she asked Habitat to install a second grip rail on the other side, so that she can one day pull herself up, stand and walk. 

“It has given my mother hope when she was beginning to lose hope,” says Theresa.

Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna and Thrivent Financial are doing great things together! The Thrivent Builds Repairs program recently partnered with Habitat’s Repair Program and helped Joyce and Jimmy Ray get an accessible ramp for their home. We hope to have many more partnering opportunities with Thrivent in the future as we strive to serve our Harford and Cecil communities in need.

For more information about the Thrivent Builds programs, CLICK HERE!


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