Used to helping others, this Texas local was on the receiving end when he needed it most.

James McWhorter was always known around his neighborhood in Waco, Texas for his generosity.

A handyman, for lack of a better term, he was quick to help his neighbors fix up their broken fences, replace a lightbulb, or assist with the countless other chores associated with up-keeping a property. “[I did] everything- roofing, shingling, painting…. McWhorter told local news.

How One Man Went Above and Beyond for His Neighbors

He grew to adopt a reputation for his generosity, and his neighbors even recall “If someone had a toilet that ran over, a mouse was in the house, anything at all needed repair, he was the one they called and he was always available.”

He often did tasks like this at a heavily discounted rate, or even for free, out of the kindness of his heart.

Sadly, in his older age McWhorter developed dementia, and was no longer able to help his community in the way he so willingly had for years. Not only that, he grew unable to care for his own property. One day, one of his neighbors noticed his roof in disrepair, and knew she had to return the favor.

Carmen Merritt, a neighbor of McWhorter’s for 20 years, told local news that she noticed the state of his roof one afternoon, and thought “This is not OK. He has helped me with so much and I [don’t] feel right just going back inside and doing nothing.”

How a Community Came Together for Their Beloved Neighbor

Merritt then went to Nextdoor, a location-based mobile phone application that works like a forum board for a given neighborhood. Community members can post updates, notices, or ask questions. Merritt used the app to ask the community for help fixing her neighbors roof, and the response was heartwarming.

Support flooded in, and one of those who saw the post was a community member who happened to run a local remodeling company — Millie Woods. She asked one of her contractors to take a look at the roof, and after checking it out one afternoon, he realized the situation was a lot worse than it seemed.

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“There are some spots that are showing bare plywood. The shingles are gone all the way to the deck and other spots nails were raising up through the shingles. It definitely needs an entire roof,” Pedro De La Rosa, owner of DLR Construction and Remodeling said.

“It is rotting. It’s got holes in it. It’s falling apart. I mean there are just big gaping areas that any creature could just walk into,” Carmen Merritt told 6 News. The project even grew to tackle the bathroom, as well as a growing pest problem.

Merritt said donations for repairs started pouring in after her initial post, in addition to donations of shingles and other necessary supplies from a local hardware store.

How One Community Proved the Importance of Generosity

Clayton Homes donated the shingles, Lowes donated other materials, Texas Built Roofing sent eight workers to help work on the roof, 1-800-Bugs provided a year of pest control, First National Bank of Central Texas donated a generous amount of money along with others, and Home Depot donated a vanity for the bathroom.

Not only is McWhorter a beloved neighbor, but he also served in the military, which Woods found particularly inspiring. “We don’t want anyone to live that way, but our veterans that served our country need better care than that and we are blessed to have found out about him and it’s an opportunity for us to give something back,” Woods said.

McWhorter, meanwhile, was reminded of the generosity of humans by this collective effort. “I didn’t know I was going to be deserving of all this you know? But I’m just thankful. Thankful that I’ve come this far and the good Lord has allowed me to see his workings,” McWhorter said.

Since the major lockdowns of the pandemic, the importance of checking on your neighbors became paramount. With everyone isolating, the importance of community support became impossible to deny, largely because it was absent.

Those little moments of checking in, just seeing if your neighbors are okay, can make all the difference. This story is a reminder of the impact we can make when banding together, and leading with empathy. Don’t forget to check on those around you, you never know who needs it.