We don’t have that worry of not having a home
Lynnsey Barnes and her teenage son, Cody, moved into their home in October 2008, built in partnership with Pearl River County Habitat for Humanity in Picayune, Mississippi.
Theirs is the affiliate’s first fully handicap-accessible house, built with ramps, wide hallways, specially equipped bathrooms and low countertops to help Barnes get around as she recovers from the removal of a life-threatening brain tumor.
After losing everything to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Barnes and her son moved from Slidell, Louisiana, to live with relatives for two years in a house that was difficult for Barnes to navigate.
“I can get out and actually go to the mailbox now,” said Barnes, 30. “For two years, I couldn’t do that.
“I don’t have to worry about bumping into things or falling in this house. I can actually take a bath without worrying if I’m going to be able to get out or having to call somebody to help me.”
Barnes’ health has improved slowly but steadily over the past couple of years. Now using a walker to get around, she hopes to graduate to a cane with a little more physical therapy.
“We’ve all had our tough streaks,” Barnes said of all the Habitat homeowners on her street. “But things are a lot better now for all of us. We don’t have that worry of not having a home.”
Cody, now 16, continues to be an excellent student, on track to fulfill his career dream of being a computer programmer. In his spare time, he’s been learning the DJ business from his uncle.
Now that they’re settled in their house, Barnes has started taking online courses at Pearl River Community College, hoping to go into medical billing and coding as soon as her health allows.
“Even if I don’t get a full recovery, at least I can sit at a desk and type,” she said. In the meantime, she keeps an eye on several neighbor children three or four afternoons a week before their parents get home from work.
“It’s a pretty nice neighborhood,” Barnes said. “Everybody gets along. I just try to help out when I can.”