By JB Clark
TUPELO – More than 70 volunteers from six states gathered Saturday in the Joyner neighborhood to completely gut and renovate Beth Stauffer’s home.
Stauffer said overwhelming is the word she continues to reach for but the word still doesn’t capture her reaction to the outpouring of community support since her husband, Sgt. Gale Stauffer, was shot and killed Dec. 23 while responding to a bank robbery on South Gloster Street.
“We’re supposed to be one family together and literally I’m seeing the hands and feet and they’re busy,” she said. “For me that’s overwhelming because they don’t even know me and they’re coming here to help me.”
By 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the first day of the renovation project, the house was nearly completely gutted and the framework almost complete for a 900-square-foot addition to the home.
Steve Tybor, who is leading the project, is doing it with help from the group Eight Days of Hope, which builds and fixes homes following disasters but said he also is relying on Tupelo support.
“It’s a community thing, not a Steve thing or and Eight Days of Hope thing but Tupelo saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got your back,” Tybor said. “One thing I love about Tupelo is Tupelo finds a way to take care of its own. We’ve had something happen we never thought would but here are companies and workers donating their time on a Saturday instead of enjoying their day off and watching college basketball.”
When the renovation is complete April 6, the Stauffer home will have brand new appliances, heating and cooling, plumbing, floor, roof, sheetrock, doors, windows and cabinets as well as a new master bedroom suite.
Tybor said they also will take a few days to help with chores at other Woodlawn Street homes.
“We’ll be cleaning up gutters and raking leaves,” he said. “We want to love on the neighborhood that’s been loving on her for the last several months.”
Stauffer moved to Tupelo in 2005 but said she knows Tupelo is her home and can’t believe how much support she’s received.
Shawn Prestage, one of 17 volunteers from Crossroads Church, said they came out because they saw another Christian in need.
He said they mostly worked demolition Saturday as the crew prepared the home for the various building projects.
Tybor expects about 400 volunteers to help on the project in some way or another before the home is finished.
“You have to count Fusion Hospitality, who is giving our out-of-town guests a place to stay, and the businesses who are providing each meal and the companies who are donating supplies and labor.”
The build will continue every day until April 6 and the March 29 build day will be open to public volunteers.