Home remodeler Bob Gallagher, who grew up near Clifton, has organized a benefit to help Dixie Dawson with repairs to her house including a deck, and wheelchair ramp. Dawson, who has Spina Bifida, has lived most of her life in the rambler off Popeshead Road her father built in the early 1960s. Gallagher is a principal at Sun Design Remodeling.
Clifton Neighbors help each other. That's what communities have always been about. In which case, it may be no surprise to learn that long-term Clifton resident Bob Gallagher is rallying his friends and peers to help Dixie Dawson, 54, whose family has lived in the town for several generations.
Dawson, who was born with Spina Bifida and relies on a wheelchair for mobility, needs funds to repair the badly deteriorated deck and wheelchair ramp on the front of her house. To help out, Gallagher, who is a principal at Sun Design Remodeling, has organized a charity tour of a newly remodeled home in Clifton's Balmoral section. While the tour is free, visitors will also have a chance to make donations to a fund that will help Dawson.
“The makeover is spectacular,” Gallagher said. “We've found that homeowners really enjoy seeing what their neighbors are doing. But this is also about helping a local person in need; that's the sense of community which Clifton has always exemplified.
DAWSON’S STORY will have special meaning for Clifton residents — particularly as the holidays approach.
The oldest of three children, Dawson has lived quietly in the 840-square-foot ranch on Popeshead Road almost her entire life. Her father, Edward, built the house in 1962 on a tree-lined half-acre lot when she was 6 months old. Since Spina Bifida is a birth defect, her father began retrofitting the house for wheelchair use when she was in elementary school. The first revision: constructing a ramp from the ground level to a front stoop.
In the late 1990s, an uncle added a two-part ramp and large front deck which Dawson can access directly from an exterior door linked to the master bedroom. One of her favorite pursuits is taking in the sun on the deck and enjoying the view. She can also watch birds, changing leaves and passersby from the storm door window in the master bedroom suite. A particular satisfaction: the 18-foot Douglas fir that her father planted in the 1970s shortly after it had fulfilled its duties as a Christmas tree inside the house. To many Cliftonites, the tall tree is a landmark.
Since there have been no repairs to the deck in over a decade, many of the boards are loose or badly cracked and splintered. Among other things, Gallagher wants to execute the needed improvements.
Beyond this, the remodeler hopes to raise the funds to bring the home's electrical systems up to code, repair interior floor and wall damage, eliminate leaks from the roof and chimney, and add outdoor furniture equipped with a large umbrella.The last item that will enable Dawson to comfortably entertain visitors. Sun Design trade partners Cedar Electric and TW Perry are also participating in the fix-up effort.
Dawson currently lives by herself with the help of a home health aide. A younger sister, Gayle, who lives in Chantilly helps with the shopping and appointments. It was a childhood friend, Janaye Raper Lawson, who put out the word that the deck needed repair.
“I wasn't sure what I really need. But I was pretty sure I couldn't afford it,” Dawson said.
That's when Lawson consulted with Christina Gallagher, Bob Gallager's wife. Lawson knew about last year's charity tour which helped a local widow repave the driveway to her home. Christina discussed the situation with Bob. Two day later, Bob Gallagher dropped by Dawson's home.
“I just thought there must be a way that a community as old and close-knit as ours can help one of its own,” said Gallagher, who grew up in the area where his father practiced medicine. “My company has learned a lot from doing our own home tours, so this seems like a logical way to reach out to the community.”
John Byrd (firstname.lastname@example.org or www.HomeFrontsNews.com) has been writing about community interest topics for 30 years.