Life was already very difficult for Catherine and Otis Hall, with their daughter, her disabled husband and four grandchildren crammed into the septuagenarian couple’s three-bedroom house.
Then one day, about a year ago, their 35-year-old daughter started complaining that she felt sick. This was the start of a series of heart attacks that left her permanently incapacitated in a hospital bed.
With their daughter unable to walk or talk and their daughter’s husband recovering in their home following a stroke, Catherine and Otis are responsible for raising their four young grandchildren, ages 1-9. And to do it in a deteriorating house.
Their Boynton Beach home is cheerful, warm and crowded. The hub is a living room where a crib vies for space with couches, bookshelves, and a coffee table, while a box fan hums in the doorway.
Like their owners, the house is aging and stressed. The air conditioning has been broken for months. The shower in the hallway bathroom flooded making it virtually useless. Before school, children often wash in a sink instead.
The dishwasher is also broken. At night, the Halls close the windows without screens to keep insects out and spend their nights in the sweltering heat.
Working three jobs to get by
What isn’t broken is the couple’s determination to keep it all together. Otis, 70, has a part-time job at a Chick-fil-A and does landscaping work on the weekends. In his spare time, he earns extra money as an Uber driver.
Catherine, 71, spends her mornings schooling the two eldest, then takes care of the two youngest at home. She keeps the house clean and cooks the meals. The three oldest children share a bedroom – the two girls, Joneyah, 8, and Jontyia, 3, snuggle up in a twin bed, the boy, Jimmon, 9, in the other.
“It’s not easy,” Catherine said, “but I thank the Lord for helping me through this.
When she can, Catherine goes to Bethesda East Hospital to visit her daughter. The children she doesn’t seem to recognize. But once Catherine placed the baby, Hor’Hyrum, on the bed with her, and Catherine could feel her daughter’s body heave, as if trying to speak.
And even though she can’t communicate, Catherine is convinced that her daughter still recognizes her.
“There’s something in her eye when she looks at me,” she said. “I thank the Lord that she is still alive.”
Catherine would like to be able to see her more often. But she also worries about how to take care of herself in the long term. If her daughter is released from the hospital, she will likely need full-time care and specialized equipment to keep her alive, something the Halls can hardly accommodate in their cramped home.
With limited income and growing needs for their grandchildren, the Halls need significant help. Their home needs major upgrades, including plumbing repairs, new appliances, a new air conditioning system, and a truck for Otis to haul his landscaping equipment (he often has to rent a U-Haul).
Joneyah needs corrective surgery to fix a hip problem that is making one of her legs longer than the other. All children need new clothes and shoes as they grow, as well as a new computer for their studies and toys for the holidays.
The wishes of the rooms
The Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society estimates the Halls need $45,000 in donations to create a decent home environment for their four grandchildren. This includes money for a new air conditioning system, plumbing work to fix a leaky shower, new furniture and appliances. The family also needs new clothes, computers and Christmas toys for the kids, and a truck for Otis Hall to haul his landscaping equipment.
Nominated by: Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society