By Riley Manning
TUPELO – The Build for Beth campaign has broken ground.
It’s the first step in a series of renovations planned for the home of Beth Stauffer, widow to Tupelo Police Sgt. Kevin “Gale” Stauffer who was killed in the line of duty in December.
Gene Waters, of Gene Waters Construction in Guntown, worked with only one other man to dig and pour footings for the 900-square-foot expansion to the home on Woodlawn Street in the Joyner neighborhood on Tuesday. He said they planned to lay the block for the foundation Wednesday, install plumbing today, and pour the slab by Friday. To boot, Waters is carrying out the work – labor and materials – at no cost to the Stauffers.
“It doesn’t take as many people as folks think,” Waters. “There’s nothing like the feeling you get from helping someone you don’t even know. It’s easy to help a friend or neighbor, but it’s an act of God to help a stranger.”
Waters is one of the 25 or so local companies who comprise Build for Beth, a program created to relieve Stauffer of the burdens of home ownership and renovation.
Waters will receive reinforcements on March 22, as a crew of 45 home makeover volunteers migrate to Tupelo from Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia and parts of Mississippi to blast through the project by April 6.
Build for Beth spokesman Steve Tybor said the campaign would be expanded to benefit the family of Tupelo Police Officer Joseph Maher, who suffered a gunshot to the head in the shootout that claimed Stauffer’s life.
Brewer Tree Service of Nettleton has offered to clear more than 30 trees from Maher’s front yard in Pontotoc County, to provide more room for his children to play.
“Anyone who’s had to have a tree removed knows how expensive that can be,” Tybor said. “And we’re considering other things in the way of home improvements for the Maher family. The generous way that Tupelo has responded to this tragedy as a community is really exciting.”
At the end of March, Tybor said Build for Beth will spread to the surrounding area, as local youth and school groups go throughout the neighborhood to carry out other handyman projects like clearing gutters and raking leaves.