Donations Needed to Build Home for 91-Year Old Region 8 Woman

LAFE, AR (KAIT) - Contractors and volunteers with the First Baptist Church of Marmaduke were out this weekend clearing debris and getting set to lay foundation for a new home. The home is for a 91-year old woman who lived in her wooden workshop for nearly 2 months before the January ice storm.

"This was my workshop, I did upholstery work, finishing work, and I spent a lot of hours out here and delivered it to people. To Paragould, Marmaduke, you name it, I worked for different people," said Jewel Kitrel.

Kitrel bought the property in 1961 and built a small home. It burned to the ground December 8th, killer her guard dog of 14 years and destroying everything she owned.

"I mostly stayed in the bed and tried to get comfortable. I didn't do anything but tried to stay warm," said Kitrel.

Kitrel was searching for the remains of her dog when she fell. Her physician then told her to become a patient of home health care. Her nurse is Kimberly Williams of the Piggott Community Hospital.

"I had just met Ms. Kitrel about a few days before the ice storm, maybe a week before the ice storm hit, and instantly we bonded and she's just a wonderful person," said Williams. "She is a very strong willed person. She doesn't give up. I come across many different kinds of people during my day, every day and a lot of people. They do give up. Ms. Kitrel is not one of those. She is a fighter and she's going to hang in there. And even If she had to stay in this current home that she is in, it wouldn't matter to her."

When the ice storm hit, Kitrel eventually went to a shelter set up at the First Baptist Church in Marmaduke. As the shelter wound down, she needed a warm place to stay. Bonnie Smith was waiting with open arms.

"I didn't realize it was going to be about 28 nights but nevertheless it's worked out fine. Yeah, we've had a lot of fun," said Smith. "We're friends. Whichever one of us kicks off the planet first that'll be it, but yes, we're friends."

"She's more than a friend. She's more like a mother, whether she appreciates me saying that or not, but she's more than a friend, she treated me like a mother," said Kitrel.

Volunteers were out Saturday clearing the trees of broken limbs that still threaten to fall. They cleared the area for construction on a new home. The home is being built by local contractors who are volunteering their time and money.

A bank account has been set up at Bancorp South in Marmaduke in Ms. Kitrel's name. Everything from plumbing supplies to electrical wire will be needed.

"I'm not a person to be afraid but I was a little shaky. The ice storm was pretty rough, and it was kind of rough on me too when it got too cold," said Kitrel.

The youth group at FBC in Marmaduke also helped.

"They're busy, busy kids, wonderful kids," said Kitrel. "They aren't into any trouble. They're working, and they're building themselves as they work, and they're not in any trouble to get into trouble when they're out and they're working."

"I got to meet her and she's a really sweet lady, and I just feel like she deserves a better home than what she's living in now and that the quicker we get this done here, the quicker she will get her better home," said Bethany Long, a 15-year old volunteer. "She hardly knows me and you can tell she loves you. As soon as you meet her, you can tell she loves you."

"We're going to get to see her be happy and we don't want her to be scared out here and I just want her to be able to be safe," said Long.

Smith said Kitrel is a living history of Greene County and Paragould.

"She's just a very sweet lady, and she was very entertaining, and told me a lot of history about Paragould and Greene County," said Smith. "I know she's going to be happy when she gets her new home and can be back out to herself."