The home of Joseph Henry and his wife Persilla has had a long history with the family. The house originally belonged to Persilla’s mother, who passed it down to Persilla and Joseph, who in turn intended to pass it on to their children and grandchildren. With over 50 years of family memories, the little blue house has seen both the good times and the bad. But, after last October’s flooding severely damaged the home with mold, the legacy of their home was nearly lost.
The Henrys’ are a love story fit for the history books. The 8th grade sweethearts met at the local high school, only minutes away from the home where they now live. 50 years later, Joseph still considers the day he met Persilla to be one of the most defining moments of his life.
On December 13th 1973, Joseph joined the army and began basic training at Fort Jackson. Though Joseph is a Columbia native, his army career took him all over. After completing advanced training at Fort Lewis, Washington, he was finally stationed in Germany.
In June of 1983, after a decade of service, Joseph returned home to Persilla. Back in Columbia, he began working in general construction. It was on the construction site that Joseph injured his back, leaving him permanently disabled. At 64 years old, Joseph now walks with a wooden cane that he hand-fashioned himself. He no longer works, and Persilla supports the household through her work at Blue Cross Blue Shield.
After the flood left the Henrys’ home with a severe mold infestation, they knew they had no place to go and no means to repair the damage. With their modest income and Joseph’s disability, repairing their home seemed an impossible task. The Henrys stayed in their home, taking pains to avoid the storm-damaged rooms. The house that was once full of their grandchildren’s laughter grew quiet, as the Henrys wouldn’t allow the young children over for fear of the health risks of breathing in the mold. Finally, Joseph and Persilla were forced to leave the home out of concern for their own health. The couple moved into a nearby hotel, where they lived for three months.
That’s when SBP, a Midlands Flood Recovery Group partner, stepped in to help. With the aid of dozens of volunteers, SBP restored the house and soon the happy couple was able to move back into their home.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings because we never did think we would see our house and our home look like it does now and it is a blessing, a great blessing,” said Joseph. “We thank everyone, every single person who helped us.”
Now, thanks to the community, the Henrys’ home is once again filled with the laughter of their grandchildren. Newly restored, the house can now remain in the family for generations to come.