CHRISTMAS ARRIVED several weeks early for Lillie and Lloyd Henson, thanks to a diverse group of "angels" who came together to turn a wish into reality.
The Hensons built their modest brick home on Catherine Avenue more than 30 years ago. The working couple raised four children there. Taking care of home maintenance was Lloyd's job, with some assistance from the kids and Lillie. Even after retiring several years ago, Lloyd, 72, continued the upkeep until being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1998 that confined him to a wheelchair.
Lillie, 63, took over what chores she could handle, with the assistance of her children. The family erected a ramp in the rear of the house to help Lillie get Lloyd back and forth to the doctor and for treatment. The ramp worked well, but an old sliding glass door that provided the necessary access to the ramp hampered Lloyd's trip.
"It's an old door and I couldn't get the wheelchair over the frame," Lillie said. "It was not easy, but we did what we could to get him out the door."
Most times, Lloyd would ride to the door, get up with assistance, and step over the old frame. Lillie then moved the chair over the door frame to the outside and helped Lloyd through. Some days, the retired dump truck driver was up to the challenge. Other days found him weakened from the effort.
On a limited income, Lillie looked for help with solving the door dilemma. "I've called the agencies and tried to get help with the door," she said. "But either we were not poor enough to qualify or we didn't need a lot of work done. We just fell through the cracks."
Getting a new door was a wish that Lillie thought would be unfulfilled, until a knock on the front door early last month by then-Pasadena Councilwoman Shirley Murphy, on a campaign visit.
"I brought Mrs. Murphy in and showed her my problem," Lillie said. "She didn't make any promises but said that she would try and help me get a new door."
After losing her re-election bid, Murphy did not forget the Hensons' plight. "Whether I won or lost, the Hensons still needed a new door, so I did what I could to help," Murphy said.
Home Depot on Mountain Road donated a new sliding glass door unit, and Koch Homes agreed to install it.
On Nov. 25, Lillie visited the store with Murphy and Brian Marsh from Koch Homes to pick up her new door from Alvin Stevenson, store manager.
Admiring the sleek new energy-efficient door and smooth frame, Lillie was thrilled at the prospect of ending her husband's struggle to get out the door. "These people are angels," Lillie said with a smile on her face and a tear in her eye. "Thank you, Jesus, for sending them to me."
Church opens addition
Parishioners at Our Lady of the Chesapeake Catholic Church have longed for a little breathing room at the Pasadena church for 16 years. This weekend, the dream will become reality when the Gathering Place opens its doors to the community.
The new addition comprises seven multipurpose rooms that can be used for meetings and religious education, office space, a media center and a 250-seat banquet hall with full kitchen facilities.
To celebrate the grand opening of the new addition, the parish will hold an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. The church is at 8325 Ventnor Road.