Originally from Lillington, now a resident of Sanford for over 30 years, Brenda King today feels more at home than ever. Prior to 2017, she worked with special needs children as an administrator for various Johnson and Lee county community centers. The work was rewarding, and she was fulfilled in her role.
In 2017, Brenda was involved in a life-threatening car crash, resulting in serious long-term health challenges. Wheelchair-bound and overweight with limited mobility, Brenda felt trapped inside her home, unable to maneuver to get outdoors. Limited income, medical bills and other expenses had prohibited her from making the home modifications that could enable her to leave the house.
She recalls an incident in which she required the assistance of emergency responders. Her weight and the lack of a handicap ramp prevented medical responders from immediately transporting her to a local hospital. Once hospitalized, Brenda became increasingly depressed. She knew a change was needed.
Following a referral to Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action Agency Brenda learned that she was eligible for assistance through the Healthy Homes Initiative, a partnership between the North Carolina Community Action Association and BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina that provides families with home repairs intended to improve their health. Through the initiative, Brenda received a ramp that now gives her more mobility to do things she loves like feeling the sun, gardening, and more easily getting to her doctor’s appointments. Brenda expresses gratitude for the program, “I am so thankful and blessed. This has changed my life and there are no words to tell you how thankful I am.”
Brenda King and Kelley Traynham, an NCCAA Communications Fellow, discuss more of her experience through a brief Q&A.
Kelley Traynham: In your opinion, why is the Healthy Homes Initiative so important for residents of North Carolina?
Brenda King: My life-changing incident was like no other and it was like a slap in the face to how I would survive based on my weight at that time and with modifications needed to my home. The steps were not very useful too because of my health issues. I’m just so thankful to no longer be trapped in the house; the three or four steps into my house don't bind me. I feel free and so happy. This is why I feel this initiative is so crucial to other people living just like me. Having accessibly to get into and out of your home keeps you going.
Kelley: With the improvements to your home through the Healthy Homes Initiative how has your mental health and other health conditions improved?
Brenda: It has tremendously changed my entire lifestyle. I think about my sister who died of a heart attack and how upsetting it was for me to deal with the loss of a loved one. I became more depressed and was worried I wouldn’t be able to attend the service. With the addition of the ramp, I was so happy to go to her homegoing and be surrounded by family. I have a way to escape by going up and down my ramp, which makes me feel free. I’m able to go to my door and wheel outside to feel the sunshine. This has made me come out of depression and no longer live in fear.
Kelley: What advice would you offer to others in a similar situation who may struggle to ask for help?
Brenda: Don’t be discouraged to ask for help or to ask questions. I was discouraged at first because I worked all my life, and I didn’t think I would qualify for assistance. I always heard ‘NO’ ‘NO’ when applying to programs. Keep trying and never give up. I’m glad that Johnston-Lee-Harnett community action agency was there to support and help me with my needs for a better life.
Brenda attributes her perseverance and determination to helping her make life changes. She is thankful for the Healthy Homes Initiative.
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