SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::
A home of their own – while this is something many dream of, for others, particularly families that have a child with special needs, it is a necessity. Marcus and Sonya Dallas and their daughter, Marasia, are one such Griffin family who needed a home, but found themselves in need of assistance to make it a reality.
Marcus and Sonya had a home – Marcus’s childhood home – but it was uninhabitable due to many years of extensive termite damage.
“It was the house I grew up in,” Marcus said. “My Grandmama had passed and left it to me.”
He explained he had spent much time working on it with the hope of one day being able to make it his family’s home, but barriers stood in his way.
“Termites had eaten it from top to bottom. I had been working on it for three and a half, almost four years. I’d get off work and go to work on the house until 11 o’clock at night,” he said. “I worked weekends – I worked from sun up to sun down on that house for almost four years. This was a huge priority in my life – being able to accommodate Marasia and make her comfortable. I was using salvaged materials and would pay people from the neighborhood to help when I could, but I had gotten done all I could do.”
Marcus said that despite being employed with a warehouse job, he was unable to go any further on his own with the home’s necessary renovations.
It was then that Marcus met David Dodd, of Impact Racing Ministries.
“I told him my story and the same day I spoke with him, he wanted to go look at the house,” Marcus said. “I put it in his hands and he didn’t stop until he got the right people and helped me and my family out.”
Dodd recalls the day he and Marcus met. It was a busy day – one in which a group of students had come to Griffin to perform a day of community service.
“About four months ago, David Mann, the president of Strong Rock Christian School, had asked if his students could come out to do community service,” Dodd said.
The work they were doing was at the Kentucky Avenue Community Center, a facility built in an impoverished neighborhood off North Hill Street.
“It’s our fourth year working in this community, but that day, as we were wrapping up, one of the guys in the neighborhood that I know approached me and said he had a friend who wanted to speak to me,” Dodd said.
That man was Marcus Dallas.
After hearing of his plight, Dodd knew he wanted to help, but said he was uncertain how to begin.
“There were holes in the floor and there was daylight streaming in through the roof,” Dodd said. “He’d been working on it for years and had even taken some courses at Southern Crescent to help him learn how to do the work on the house.”
Dodd said Marcus, with some help from friends, had successfully replaced the foundation, but much work remained to be done.
“Basically, he’d run out of time, run out of money and run out of energy,” Dodd said. “I told him I didn’t know anything about the construction, but that we’re here to do life with the community, so let’s talk some more about what we can do.”
Although he admits he did not personally possess the skill set needed to complete the renovations, Dodd said someone soon came along who did.
During a business meeting with Danny Adams, a contractor, a conversation ensued that led to the Dallas family’s new beginning.
“He had appreciation for all the work Marcus had done, especially with the foundation,” Dodd said. “He said, ‘Let me see what I can do.’”
Soon after, Adams had enlisted the help of Strong Rock Outdoors, a ministry comprised of men from the Henry County area.
Dodd remembers a conversation when he said it would be great if the Dallas family could be given their home as a Christmas gift, but some were skeptical it was possible.
“I was told that wasn’t very practical, but I told them I’m not a very practical guy,” Dodd said.
The very next day, Dodd received a text message saying he needed to request a dumpster be placed at the home by the end of the week because work was being lined up.
From that point forward, the progress has been swift.
“It’s been an outpouring from contractors that I’ve never even laid eyes on,” Dodd said of the people who have donated their time, talents and more. “Those guys have worked tirelessly on this.”
The work has moved along so quickly that Dodd hopes to be able to obtain a certificate of occupancy the first week of February.
“This situation is pretty unique. We’ve just worked and prayed through this thing,” he said, adding that the entire project has been demonstrative of what Impact Racing Ministries strives to do. “We’re here to do life with people in the community. We want to present opportunities to the adults and kids who may not have them otherwise. They shouldn’t allow the circumstances of their environment to determine their futures.”
There is no denying the Dallas family’s future is brighter now.
“This has already made a big difference in my life,” Marcus said. “I mentor boys in the neighborhood now and I want to be able to work with Strong Reach Outdoors. I’m closer to God. I’m in church and I’m there with my family.”
Marcus said the work done on his family’s home is more than he could have imagined and believes it will have a great impact on their lives.
“It means the world to me. I’m happy to be able to put my daughter in a better home. She’s handicapped – she’s non-verbal and she can’t walk – but she’ll have a yard to enjoy life more,” he said. “How the house turned out, I didn’t have that vision. Even if I’d had all the money, I never would have pictured it turning out like it has. It’s going to change all our lives. I couldn’t ask for anything more. This blessing came from God above.”