Wilmington grandmother could lose family home of 75 years

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Taking care of a family member that’s been diagnosed with cancer isn’t easy. One woman is taking care of three family members with cancer, while also fighting to keep the home that’s been in their family for nearly a century.

“I just want to be able to make things work so I can take care of my family and help others.”

Renee Garris has dedicated her life to serving others, both in her career and at home.

“She’s the best person that you will ever meet,” said her nephew.

Renee works full time in the emergency room, and the money she makes goes toward her family.

“I got three family members with cancer and it’s been hard dealing with all of that, taking care of everyone,” said Renee.

On top of that, she’s facing another challenge: code violations that could force her out of the home that’s been in her family for 75 years.

“You don’t really know what’s going on in your neighbor’s life until you get out there and really interact and meet your neighbors,” said Greg Pampell.

Pampell and his girlfriend Kristen McKeithan run a community support group called Good Works. Pampell says when they heard about Renee’s situation, they had to step up.

“What we see in that is someone who’s always giving to others. And so what we have found is a great opportunity for the neighborhood or the city to rally and say it’s time for us to really give to Renee,” said Pampell.

Pampell says because the home is in the historic district, there are strict rules when it comes to repairs.

“You either repair the material that’s there, or you replace it with the same material, the original material,” he said.

He adds that those original materials do not come cheap.

“Just to replace those shingles is like 600 dollars a square foot,” said Pampell.

In order to use different, less expensive materials, a homeowner must file paperwork detailing the changes. This is followed by a hearing with the historic committee, and approval from 12 neighbors.

Pampell says this difficult and lengthy process might not be possible given Renee’s November deadline.

Despite all this, she’s keeping a positive outlook.

“I feel like God sent people in my life right now to support me, and lift me up,” said Renee.

“Renee is a very goodhearted person and she’s always there to help others, and it’s important for us to come together as a community and also assist her in a time of need,” said he co-worker Marissa Bryant.

Pampell says while they have been able to score some victories, like paying off Renee’s water bill and replacing a leaky toilet, they still have a long way to go.

He says if repairs are not made by November 30, Renee will be fined $100 the first day and $200 every day after that. Fines she cannot afford.

Click here to learn more about Renee’s story, and how you can help.

Categories: Local, New Hanover