Marcy Eubanks told a handful of volunteers visiting her, this week, with intensions to help build her a new, handicap accessible house, that "I feel like someone has it worse than me."
Volunteers do not agree, and they have launched a campaign to raise the money for the project. They hope to have her and her special needs son, Dylan, age 18, in a new house by early spring.
The two are living in an older mobile home in rural Conway that has leaks, holes, cracks and mold. The windows are covered with blankets on the inside and plastic on the outside. Window units are used for air conditioning in the summer and portable heaters for winter warmth.
Humbled by the offer from the volunteers, Eubanks said she has had a 10-year string of bad luck but tries to maintain an "attitude of gratitude."
Eubanks’ husband Terry died in December 2005. An independent truck driver, he picked up his load in Indiana and placed his last call to his wife. He told Eubanks that he was feeling bad and blamed it on the flu. It turned out to be an aneurysm. He died on Friday, and his body was found on Tuesday morning, she said, in a parking less than five miles from where he picked up his last load.
"He was missing for five days and no one could find him," Eubanks said. "He died alone. But, we told each other just 45 minutes before he died that we loved each other. That was a blessing. "
His death was a blow to the family. Eubanks was left by herself totally responsible for Dylan’s care. Yet, that wasn’t the beginning of the roller coaster of bad luck. It began the year before, Eubanks said, when her husband’s truck burned leaving them struggling for money. Strike two, her husband’s parents, Frank and Betty Eubanks, died the same year, within 30 days of each other.
"We didn’t have any money and we were left struggling just trying to find the money to bury two people," Eubanks said.
One thing, Eubanks stressed more than once, is that Dylan being a part of her life has been a blessing —even though he requires constant care. Eubanks brought Dylan into her home in 2003 while he was in foster care. The first year was an adjustment period. As well, a lot of time was spent with doctors and in hospitals but she had her husband to lean on. A special needs child, she said, he had been in an abusive and neglectful situation and the rights of his parents had been terminated.
"He was born healthy," she said. "His medical conditions began when he was 10 months old after a near drowning. "
As a result, she said, Dylan has mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures and cortical blindness as well as many other problems that require trips to doctors and hospitals. Eubanks missed a lot of work and was terminated after seven years of employment at the same job. The sole household income is $710 per month—Dylan’s SSI check.
"I lost my job because of the total care my son requires," she said. "It’s hard to find daycare for kids with a lot of problems. The amount of my monthly income is barely enough to pay the bills now and there is no room for a mortgage payment or house note."
Entering the family’s house, Dylan is the first to offer a greeting. A smile on his face, he asks for hugs from all who enter. Unable to walk, he scoots on the carpeted floor to move throughout the house. He has medical devices to help him but the interior is too small to accommodate them. The carpet appears clean but, Eubanks said, it concerns her lies underneath. The roof was damaged, she explained, by tornadic winds in 2011. The roof was repaired but the carpet was soaked as a result of the leaks and the floor has soft spots.
"It worries me daily that while my son is crawling on the floor that some part of it may fall through," she said. "There are a lot of soft spots and mold and mildew."
The floor also serves as Dylan’s dressing table. "I’m getting older and he’s getting bigger," Eubanks said. The one workable bathroom about four-foot wide, Eubanks said, is almost impossible to negotiate getting Dylan in and out.
As a part of the volunteers efforts, a builders’ plan has been drawn up to include about 1,200 square feet of housing to be built on the property, owned by Eubanks, where her mobile home sits.
Will Cook, a member of Beryl Baptist Church, is heading up the efforts with the help of the congregation. Cook as well as the "More than a Carpenter" crew from the church has worked on Eubanks’ house several times including once on Thanksgiving Day repairing the front door that had come off the hinges. They also helped when the hot water heater went out and they discovered Eubanks was heating water for bathing.
"It’s been kind of like putting a band aid on an artery you have cut," said church member Pat Dallas, who is also helping to coordinate the effort. "She just needs a new house. This is beyond fixing."
The church congregation, Dallas said, is reaching out to other churches, businesses and organizations as well as individuals hoping they will lend a helping hand.
Contacts are being made and fundraisers are being set up. The first fundraiser will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., November 2, at Big Ben’s Restaurant in Vilonia with 33 percent of every buffet donated to the house project.
Also, the "Dylan Treece Build a House Fund," has been set up at Centennial Bank in Vilonia for donations. Or, one can donate at www.GoFundMe.com/4wy988, Dallas said.