A Community Comes Together

Thursday, October 6, 2016
The volunteers who donated their time to paint the house of Ronda Haney, and husband John.(courtesy photo)

A beautiful day dawned Saturday, Oct. 1, ushering in just a hint of fall weather. Well before 6:30 a.m., a team of volunteers set a secret plan into motion benefiting Rector's Ronda Haney. With not a hint to Ronda that something was afoot, the cadre suited up for action.

Candy Hill, an across-the-street neighbor, peeked through her blinds to watch Carla Essman pull out of the driveway, escorting Ronda to her dialysis treatment in Paragould. Candy signaled Joey Fannin, "They just pulled off. Come on."

Volunteers descended on Greenville Street with paint gear, paint, tools, supplies, snacks and hearts overflowing with love for a woman who always has given to others.

It all began with a simple question from Ronda's daughter Gabrielle (Gabby) Haney to Fannin, a professional painter. "How much would it cost to paint my mama's house?" One of Ronda's long-time friends, Fannin paused a moment and then said, "I'll just do it."

He really didn't know what his selfless act would trigger. He had the same desire as countless others, a longing to help Ronda in her battle with polycystic kidney disease.

The project took life.

Friends and acquaintances volunteered their time. Contacts with Sherwin-Williams in Paragould donated brushes, buckets and shirts, and Matt Williams reduced the price of the paint by half. The remaining cost was met by local donors like Susan Allison who heard of the need and met it.

Fannin, saying he's grateful to his late father Billy Joe Fannin for giving him the work ethic and teaching him the trade, noted, "I could not do this alone. I didn't get this job done by myself. All these people got this job done. I just wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself."

Daughter Gabby shared, "Dad told me that Mom thought I was up to something, but she didn't know what. She had no idea of the 'extreme makeover' the house was about to get. Actually, I didn't knoweither how big this project would become. She always points out a house on the way to Jonesboro, a house with brown paint and white trim, so I knew what color we'd use."

To complete the surprise, plenty of curb appeal was applied by adding colorful mums, new lighting, a new mailbox and a gorgeous fall wreath which was hung on the door. Kathy Fowler brought some especially large yellow mums to add even more pop to the front elevation, drawing attention to the blonde brick fireplace.

When the team knew that Ronda's dialysis treatment was concluded and that she'd not experienced too rough a morning, the group started making plans for Ronda's arrival. Essman, Ronda's dialysis buddy for the day, signaled a team member by cell phone that they were in Marmaduke. Team Ronda got into position for a big "Welcome Home."

The ovation when the car pulled into the driveway began when the group saw the look of astonishment on Ronda's face just before she dissolved into tears.

Gabby escorted her mom from the car and held her closely as Ronda said, "What am I ever going to do with you people?" She then walked up to each person there and gave a hug and a thank you.

"I have the best friends in the whole world," Ronda said. "I had no idea."

Tracy Horton, Ronda's long-standing friend and project coordinator, along with Gabby and Fannin, led her to the front porch, where a much-needed seat was offered. Tracy then presented Ronda with an envelope of donations from townspeople who wanted to help in some small way. Those individual donations have been coming from random sources throughout Ronda's battle and have been used to defray doctor's expenses and hospital bills.

If the kidney disease were not enough trauma, Ronda suffered a nasty fall a few weeks ago due to complications from dialysis, breaking both jaws. The recovery from that surgery and hospitalization only complicated her road to kidney removal. Nevertheless, throughout the ordeal, Ronda never lost her spirit. Tired, frustrated, in pain and tears, her glow still radiates, even in her weak smile. Coming from the love she shows to people, her giving nature makes her one who is surprised when the benevolence is returned to her. The volunteers for the project performed an act of love, an outward sign of the care in their hearts.

"Today we got to give a little back to her," Hill said.

Teresa Roofe, a long-time friend who just happens to be Rector's mayor, said, "This is what Rector does best." Her remark was echoed by countless others who said in various ways, "I would not live anywhere else. We take care of our neighbors."

Zelda Horton summed up the thoughts of the group when she said, "We're glad we could brighten her day. Every day, Ronda brightens ours."

The paint party at Ronda's house included Matt and Pamela Mills, Shawna Bucy, Robin Bell, Linda Speer, Amy Speer, Nancy Holcomb, Debi Boyd, Tracy Holloway, Sarah Pruett, Joey Pruett, Mark Thomas, Michelle Thomas, Olivia Sutherland, Terry Vel, Sarah Fannin Hicks, Laura Mosley, Corey Fannin, Shannon Haywood, Tracy Horton, Zelda Horton, Joey Fannin, Fowler, Roofe and Hill.

"This is what life is all about...when you do for others as Ronda has done all her life, you are blessed beyond measure. Everyone received a blessing today," said Essman.

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