Baylor University students spend their holiday building home for Blountstown couple.
Almost a year ago, Jamie and Sherry Stephens were celebrating. After a battle with cancer, Sherry had finally completed chemotherapy treatments and was on the road to recovery.
But just two weeks after her final treatment round, tragedy struck in another form. Jamie and Sherry lost their Wood Cemetery Road home to a fire.
With no insurance, the couple bounced from house to house, eventually spending the past six months with Jamie’s mother. They placed a shed on the property off Hwy. 69 South near Hugh Creek with a view of the land where they once grew delicious vegetables. A couple months back, the weather was nice so they decided to camp.
While the Stephens were enjoying a night at their old home site, former Gulf County Judge David Taunton was doing some logging nearby and noticed the couple. Many folks in this area are very familiar with Taunton who has operated a children’s home with his wife for many years, changing countless lives. The couple was once honored by Oprah Winfrey and appeared on her show.
So while working on Wood Cemetery Road, Taunton asked the Stephens’ neighbor, Buddy, for the couple’s story. When Buddy shared the details about the blaze, Taunton responded, “Tell them to draw up some house plans.”
Within a matter of weeks, Taunton had a crew of students from Baylor University ready to start swinging hammers. The students showed up this weekend, giving up their spring break to begin work on the house. As of Monday morning, the concrete slab Jamie and Sherry had poured was topped with the frame of a house.
“We had it pretty bad for awhile, but it’s looking up,” says Sherry. “There are not enough thank yous in the world that would be enough. Everybody is doing this on their own time, donating this and that. It’s been great.”
Many more work hours will be needed, but the house is well on it’s way. Not only is Jamie enjoying working side by side with these volunteers, but he remarks he hopes to “pay it forward” and join them on a future project for someone else in need.