Community members and local businesses have come together to raise $13,000 to rebuild 97-year-old Mary Fields’ home after the Seguin Fire Marshal says someone intentionally set fire to it on Dec. 1, 2012.
Fields made it out of her home -- thanks to a neighbor.
"She's like a mother to me. And I just met her,” said contractor Ken Chenevert, who is spearheading the project.
He and Fields had never met until Chenevert heard about what happened to her home.
Fields’ insurance would only cover $10,000 in repairs, and Chenevert says the damage was in excess of $30,000.
But once he and his crew got inside the home, they discovered it had no insulation, termite damage and rotting floors.
“The little old lady is so small, so frail,” said Chenevert, his voice shaking and in tears. “I just couldn’t see halfway doing this project. It had to be done right.”
He told a friend about the project, and that friend wrote him a $3,300 check to put new central air and heating in Fields’ home.
That’s when donations of supplies, labor and money started rolling in.
"Shortly thereafter, I picked up the phone and called another friend, and he said I’ll donate $1,000,” said Chenevert. “And it started snowballing."
Some of the men rebuilding Fields’ home are volunteering their time or taking pay cuts to do the work.
One of them drove in from Poteet and has been staying with Chenevert and his wife during the project.
Crews are not only repairing the damage caused by the fire, but they are also widening doors to allow room for Fields’ wheelchair, adding handrails along the walls to help her move around and building a ramp out the back door to allow her wheelchair to go in and out more easily.
The Home Depot in Seguin is providing paint -- and painting labor -- for the project as well as fixtures and tile.
“It was a no brainer,” said Home Depot employee Tina Green. “To be able to be part of something like that to do for somebody, it’s amazing.”
Fields, who is currently staying with her niece, is overwhelmed with gratitude.
“I just want to say thank you to all the dear people and God bless you all,” Fields said. “It won't be too long before I'll get back in my home.”
Chenevert says the reconstruction will happen one way or the other, but they still need roughly $6,000 more.
Meanwhile, Seguin Fire Marshal Gregg Brise says investigators are still searching for the person or persons responsible for setting fire to Fields’ home.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Seguin Fire Marshal or the Guadalupe County CrimeStoppers at 830-303-TIPS.
Moments after this story aired on Feb. 14, someone called and volunteered to lay all the tile in Mary's home.