DALLAS — Gutted by fire last spring, a house in East Oak Cliff has now been rebuilt.
All the walls, floors, and ceilings have been replaced.
Shiny appliances have been put in.
And for the first time, the home has been outfitted with central air conditioning and heat.
"Everything is new in the house," beamed construction worker David Haynes.
But the most important fixture that has been restored here is the one on the front porch: 86-year-old Vernon Freeman, who told us months ago, "I want to come home as quick as I can."
He has been waiting to return to his home of more than five decades, often sitting in his favorite spot on the front porch to watch the progress.
"He’s a character," Haynes said. "It's fun to have him around when we work, and when he's not here, he's missed."
After the fire, Freeman — a former carpenter who was known for always helping others in the neighborhood — was unable to help himself. The damage was just too bad and repairs were too expensive.
When word got out, the community rallied around Freeman.
Lots of people pitched in at first, but volunteer David Haynes is one of the very few who stayed with it.
"When I am not working on a paying job, I am here. And I am always here on weekends," he said.
If all works out, next weekend will be his last on this project. The work will be finished, and Vernon Freeman will finally be back in his own home again.
Or, more likely, sitting just outside it.
- Volunteers still need help getting supplies for a new fence for the property. To learn how to help, visit the Friends of Vernon Freeman Facebook page.