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The James Boys

Volunteer group use faith, hammers to help residents in need

Posted 9/21/23

CLAY HILL – One volunteer group in Clay County is in high demand this fall.

The James Boys, affiliated with Clay County Habitat for Humanity, has been in “business” since 1995 and utilizes …

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The James Boys

Volunteer group use faith, hammers to help residents in need


Posted

CLAY HILL – One volunteer group in Clay County is in high demand this fall.

The James Boys, affiliated with Clay County Habitat for Humanity, has been in “business” since 1995 and utilizes help from Orange Park Methodist and Highpoint Community churches. 

On Monday, The James Boys resurrected a ramp for Linda Harris, a resident of Bluejay Road. They made quick work of the former ramp, which was deteriorating, eradicating and replacing the structure before the “lunch bell” rang. 

Harris, who will now be able to enter and exit her mobile home safely, expressed immense gratitude in the group, whose impact was far-reaching, she said.

“The other (ramp) was falling completely apart. I have fallen a couple of times where the wood (was) rotting through, and my husband, who passed away, had a wheelchair, and it was harder for him to maneuver down the old one. This is going to be a (tremendous) help because I have a balance problem in my brain,” she said. 

Harris connected with the James Boys after receiving several grants through Clay Cares, which initiated a series of home improvements. However, the monies did not cover enough for the ramp’s replacement, which would have cost her at least $8,000 to replace.

 “I wouldn’t have been able to afford that,” she said. 

The continuing acts of kindness from the group have boundlessly impacted Harris’s countless other residents.

“It’s really nice that they care enough to come out and help people,” she said. 

After finishing the job, the James Boys stuck to a tried-and-true tradition, inviting the homeowner outside to see their completed work and to join the group for a send-off prayer. 

The power of a good deed creates a similar effect on volunteers.

“Let me tell you, it makes my day when people see the (finished product), and you see tears rolling down their face. Some people can’t even get out of their (mobile home) before we come to fix the ramp,” said Gray Chandler, a former employee of CSX who’s led the group for three years.

As the James Boys extend their services by helping residents regain mobility and independence, they continue to touch lives in the county. Elmer Posick, a former engineer with the Federal Treasury Department who retired in 2011, handles board cutting. He shared a heartwarming story about a rebuild from the James Boys that allowed a 10-year-old boy who permanently used a wheelchair to travel freely to and from his home. “You should have seen that little boy’s look, thinking ‘I can get in and out of this house. I can go up and down this ramp all by myself.’” 

Before the James Boys came in for assistance, he had to be picked up and carried in and out of his residence.

“I’ve never felt so blessed just to have this opportunity. We truly are doing the Lord’s work,” he said. 

Providing an essential service to residents and woven into the fabric of the county community for nearly 30 years, the James Boys are in higher demand than ever. They built 51 ramps last year, and that number should grow.

“I think we’re on track to do more than that this year,” said volunteer Ken Kolz.