MACON, Ga. — Justine Hawthorne has lived in Macon her entire life. She thinks back on 76 of memories in her Chestnut Street home.
"Everybody would meet at this house," she said.
She loves this house and the memories made in it, "The birthday parties my mother used to give me, Thanksgiving dinner, Fourth of July, and Labor Day."
There's a problem with the house, though: the steps to the door. Hawthorne uses a walker. The steps are too steep, and her old wheelchair ramp is too slippery.
That's why she's getting a new wheelchair ramp through Rebuilding Macon. The organization works with elderly and low-income homeowners on minor home repair projects.
"Wheelchair ramps, handrails, exterior repairs this year," said Executive Director Debra Rollins. "Hopefully when COVID comes closer to an end, we can get back inside and do some of the other things."
The Macon-Bibb Commission is set to award the organization $133,000. Rollins says that will help fund about 150 home repairs and 250 projects throughout the year.
"It's going to be a little bit harder this year to hit our numbers, but we've done a lot of great work with that money," Rollins said.
Before the pandemic, it cost about $600 to $800 to build a wheelchair ramp. Now, it costs nearly double.
Whatever the cost, though, Rollins says the reactions are always worth it.
"At the end when people are walking down that ramp down the first time, and they're almost giggling. Some are crying, but most are giggling it's just so wonderful," she said.
"I'll probably try to run down it! But I won't make it with these bad knees," Hawthorne said.
The funds won't be finalized until after next week's Macon-Bibb Commission meeting.