RICHMOND, Calif. (KTVU) - Christmas may have come and gone, but the spirit lingers. The organization, “Christmas in Richmond”, which used to hold big parties for the needy, now has a more focused effort aimed at improving the lives of a few individuals by doing home makeovers.
This year the group helped someone who has also been there for the community.
Three days after Christmas presents are still arriving at Lillie Mae Jones’ Richmond home.
“I got the help. That’s what’s so amazing,” said Jones. This year, she’s one of the charity’s two recipients to receive a home makeover.
“It's a very beautiful thing. It's overwhelming. It is. [I’m] trying to contain myself,” Lena Henderson, Jones granddaughter.
In this case, the tables are turned. For decades, Jones was a community leader, running— among other things— an organization called Community Youth Council for leadership education.
“We were able to be exposed to the professional world. And that was her doing,” said Raynelda Scott, a Christmas in Richmond volunteer. She remembered how Jones had helped her with internships and professional conferences.
Scott is now a web developer and is taking the opportunity to return the favor and is helping fix Jones’ house.
“So, this is like a full-circle moment,” said Jones. “See how God works? They were little, but they're grown now. They saw my need and came back to help me.”
While the work continued, Jones took her daily trip across the street to her home away from home.
About six years ago, Jones created the ‘Garden of Comfort and Serenity’ as another way to give back to the community, by filling the vacant lot and helping the animals. It’s something she continues to do to this day, even when she’s the one in need of help.
For Jones’ being the one in need is not the easiest position to be in.
“My grandmother is a feisty Capricorn with fire,” said Henderson.
Aaliyah Washington, 14, is one of the volunteer group’s team leaders.
“When everything's done and complete, and you see their face, it like brings you joy, and it's hope for you, like Yes, I know there's a tomorrow!” said Washington.
Christmas in Richmond is in need of donations and volunteers to finish the job and another job planned in Oakland.