It only takes a knock: Outpouring of love supports neighbors in need
LULING — It only took one person, one knock, to unleash an outpouring of love for neighbors in need.
Community goodwill is spreading like wildfire in the Coronado Park subdivision in Luling. It all started less than two weeks ago, when Wendy Aucoin knocked on her neighbor’s door to ask if everything was okay and if she would like help finishing painting her house.
For more than 30 years, the house on the corner has been home to three generations of strong women. The matriarch of the family passed away two years ago at age 94. Aucoin learned the daughter, age 70, is battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. The granddaughter is dedicated to caring for her mother while also raising and homeschooling her niece and nephew, who have lived with her since infancy.
The family’s health concerns and financial struggles have been compounded by the stress of maintaining a house, with cousins helping when they could.
After hearing their story, the Aucoin family felt compelled to help. Neighbors Angelle White and Mike Parker were the first to join the effort. Letters distributed throughout Coronado Park got more neighbors involved and led to an astounding $1,600 raised in less than one week.
Donations in the form of labor, materials and financial contributions continue to pour in. The giving spirit is contagious, and there’s no sign of it stopping any time soon. The Aucoins said, “We are not going to stop until we can’t go anymore.”
The generous donation of a local roofer’s labor and 30-year shingles will provide long-lasting protection for the family home. Rotted fascia and soffit is being replaced. Six windows have been donated to replace the damaged 40-year-old windows original to the house. Labor is still needed to install these windows, and neighbors are determined to replace more damaged windows around the house when possible.
The second story exterior, which was for a few years left half yellow and half gray, now has a finished paint job. The painter who worked on it years ago moved out of state when it was half complete. The Aucoins found painter Corey O’Baugh, also a Coronado resident, on the Next Door app.
O’Baugh finished the paint job in less than three days, working around constant rainstorms, and also completed a number of odd jobs around the house to be a blessing for a worthy cause. He has definitely earned a great reference from his great work.
The family now has a functioning garage door opener, allowing the mother to enter the house safely out of the rain and after returning home from chemo treatments. Before, the granddaughter had to pull her car as close to the front door as possible in order to help her mother get inside.
An extended family member was mowing the lawn whenever he was able. The grass grew tall between visits, and a helpful team of neighbors has now volunteered to keep it maintained on a regular basis for her.
Cleared shrubs, new shutters, potted plants and repainted patio seating with new cushions have transformed the front of the house. A basketball goal that had toppled over is now standing upright, and the fence surrounding the backyard will soon be repaired. One of the most meaningful donations has been a wooden plaque with a cross that now hangs under the new front porch light and will accompany the homeowner as she sits outside to read her Bible.
The Aucoin family has full intentions of replacing the appliances original to the home. The local Sears Home Store in Luling has already donated a beautiful brand new refrigerator to benefit the family. Glen Bourgeois of Des Allemands has volunteered to service the central AC unit. Stell Furniture in Luling donated a mattress, box spring and frame so that the mother no longer has to sleep upstairs. Plumbing repairs would help her immensely in the downstairs half bath.
Aucoin said it has been one Godsend after another. The past two weeks have been a labor of love — a whirlwind of the most wonderful kind — and the overwhelming community response has shined a spotlight on the best side of humanity.
Countless people driving by have seen the repairs and have stopped to ask what’s going on. Aucoin keeps a supply of letters in her pocket for this very reason, and she’s learned most people are eager to help when they know someone’s story.
“Please don’t assume. Reach out, knock, ask how you can help. You don’t know someone’s struggles,” Aucoin said. “One person, one knock, one letter led from three people helping, to eight people helping, to 25 to 30 people, plus a couple of local businesses donations.”
Angelle White, Mike Parker and Monique Celistan and their families said they are happy to help make a difference.
“Everyone in this neighborhood has always been kind and friendly, but this experience seems to have lifted our souls and is bringing us closer together even with the social distancing put upon us by COVID,” White said.
Parker added, “I try to live by the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ This becomes very important as we travel through our senior years and things get a little more difficult to accomplish by yourself.”
Celistan said, “Helping our neighbors is what love is all about at the end of the day. All lives matter, and every life is precious. God wants no division, but for us to love each other, focus on making positive impacts that help one another. Even though we don’t know every person in the neighborhood, it is so nice to see so many of us serving in a time like this.”
The ladies who live in the house have always believed in feeding anyone who is hungry and using what you have to help others. All three generations often cooked large meals for their church while working around faulty appliances.
“They work around the broken items and expect nothing but are so very grateful for all that’s been done,” Aucoin said.
The elder resident is worried she can’t properly thank everyone for the work being done, but Aucoin has assured the family it’s a pleasure for everyone to help long-time neighbors and friends.
The granddaughter feels blessed to see the community come together.
“With all the racial tensions right now, it warms my heart to have my neighbors helping and it not being a black or white thing but a people loving and helping people thing,” she said.
Aucoin’s husband, Mike, has been instrumental to the work that has been done so far. Any and all trades are welcomed to support the continued revitalization of the property.
Plumbing, electrical and sheetrock experts would be especially helpful to completing the next steps, Aucoin said. Window installation is still needed, and they are seeking an operator and a Bobcat to grade the side and backyard.
Donations can be directed to MakeJillSmile.2020 on GoFundMe or to @Wendy-Aucoin (WA) on Venmo. Please email Wendy Aucoin at email@example.com for any questions.
A follow-up story will include acknowledgement of the people and businesses who have made a difference.