At United Way, we understand that a home is more than just four walls and a roof—home is the place where we keep our memories.
Columbia natives Mr. and Mrs. McKie purchased their home in December of 1977. It was in this home that they raised three children, who have now blessed them with grown grandchildren. And it was to this home that Mr. Mckie returned after serving our country as a Navy diver.
As a young man, Mr. McKie loved to dive. Even after he left the Navy, he joined a local dive club, and all these years later, he still enjoys talking about diving. Even as dementia has taken a toll on his memory, he still recalls many diving stories.
As time went on, Mr. McKie’s struggles with dementia began to increasingly affect the couple’s lives. After thirty years of business, the McKies were forced to shut down the heating and air company which served as their primary source of income. Mrs. McKie, a soft spoken and loving wife, now serves as her husband’s caregiver.
When October of 2015 came, it brought with it days of unrelenting rain. The McKie’s drain became overwhelmed, and soon the water began rising below their home, flooding the northernmost side of the house, including the sun room and the adjacent dining room.
When the rains finally stopped, the McKies were left with water-damaged floors and mold-sprouting walls. The ceilings above the rooms were also heavily damaged, as the rains leaked in from the roof.
The flood damage forced the McKies out of their home. But Mrs. McKie remained patient even as the bad days came. While they were grateful to be able to find a place to stay, being away from the familiarity of their home only increased Mr. McKies already difficult struggles with retaining his memory. “It’s just not home,” Mrs. McKie said.
Soon, however, things began to turn around. After finding out about their story, United Way Community Impact Partner Home Works of America and their dedicated group of volunteers stepped in to help. From May through July, Home Works repaired the damage to the McKie’s home. They tore out and replaced the water-damaged floors and walls, and reroofed the house to provide for future defense against the rain. They even contacted a professional firm who was able to remove the asbestos from the house.
The McKies were finally able to return to their home. Surrounded once again by its familiarity, the couple can get back to the normal rhythm of their lives. Though they still struggle with the loss of Mr. McKie’s memory, thanks to the work of the community, they don’t have to experience the loss of a home.