Help pledged for homeless Oella man

October 11, 1994|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore area residents have pledged to help a homeless Oella man who wants to barter yard work for a county-owned prefabricated home that he can't afford to have moved to his property.

More than a dozen callers have offered money, household goods and other assistance in moving the house from Banneker Park in the rural, southwestern Baltimore County community to Delroy Matthews' property a quarter-mile down Oella Avenue.

"I am really, truly, looking up," said Mr. Matthews, a 42-year-old recovering alcoholic who has been living out of a 1984 Datsun parked on his lot for nearly five years since his grandmother's house burned down in 1989.

"I'm going to start living. I got so much to do. I got furniture and all this stuff to get together. I'm really happy."

A Timonium woman who asked for anonymity called The Sun yesterday after reading an article about Mr. Matthews in Sunday's editions and offered $1,000 toward the cost of moving the home.

The 79-year-old widow said, "I think he showed initiative, and I think he should be encouraged."

The tiny, boarded-up prefabricated home that Mr. Matthews wants is owned by Baltimore County, which used it to house a park superintendent. County officials have agreed to give it to Mr. Matthews in exchange for grounds work in the park -- but Mr. Matthews has to move it.

Earlier estimates put the cost of the moving job at about $4,000 -- but that was before Joe Robertson came along yesterday and said he could do it for less. He is co-owner of Equipment Transport Inc. of Chase, a company that moves relocatable classrooms for Baltimore County.

"We just finished up our season," he said. "I read this in the paper, and I might be able to be of assistance. We'd do it at almost cost to help him out."

He said would charge $1,500 to $1,800, depending on the measurements of the house and the permits required to haul it.

"We would only make that an exception in this case. The guy's a little bit down and under," he said.

Mr. Robertson called Mount Gilboa AME church in Oella, whose pastor, the Rev. John Davis-El, began helping Mr. Matthews this summer. Mr. Davis-El said he had a dozen calls yesterday from those wanting to help, and several more called The Sun with offers large and small.

"I used to give to the United Way, and you never got to see where that money went," said one caller, Paula Hermank, 30, of Monkton. "It's kind of a shame that people are put off from giving unless they see the person [who gets the money]. I'm the same way. I hope he gets what he needs."

Anne Imboden, 57, a retired social worker, also wanted to make a contribution. "I just hope this can help this man. This one time I felt it would be nice to make some small difference," the North Baltimore woman said.

Mr. Matthews said the attention has made him feel better. On Sunday, he said, he was standing outside the Country Corner Store near the Gilboa AME Church when motorists driving by who had seen his picture suddenly took notice.

"These people was going by waving at me," he said. "I mean, I was feeling good. They don't even know me. Usually I do stand up on that corner in the morning, but nobody ever wave at me, unless it's somebody who know me," he said.

He said he's heartened that people will help him at this time of year, with winter coming on.

"I'm just not looking back now. I just feel like I am going to be out of the cold weather," he said. "My confidence is way up, because I think people want to help."

Those who want to contribute may call the Mount Gilboa AME Church at 461-7126.

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