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Community rallies behind Charlottesville family after they received an unkind note from neighbor

A volunteer helps repair a porch for a Charlottesville family.
A volunteer helps repair a porch for a Charlottesville family.(WVIR)
Updated: Mar. 20, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Lori Fitzgerald scans over the note that was left at her grandmother’s home in Charlottesville, reading it aloud.

“‘Hello, have you noticed the condition of your front porch wrought iron? It’s become quite an eyesore for the neighborhood. Perhaps a coat or two of paint to deal with the rust,’” Lori read. It was signed anonymously with, ‘A concerned neighbor.’

Little did the writer know that the 83-year-old woman who lived there was alone, and, at that time, most of her family was battling COVID-19.

“Most of my family had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and my dad was fighting for his life at that time,” Fitzgerald recounted.

Her father, Steve Drewry, who had plans to fix the place up this spring, lost his battle to the virus in February.

“We literally got this, I want to say it was like, a day or two after my father passed away. So not only were we dealing with the death of my father, now we were dealing with a concerned neighbor about a porch that at that time, was not our concern,” Fitzgerald said.

That’s when her family took to the internet, sharing their story. People responded by showing up to her grandmother’s home, ready to work.

“We’ve been able to take two buildings down that were falling apart and been able to get rid of those. They have just about finished the porch. They’re getting ready to start painting that. And we’ve even had people mulch and take stuff away,” Fitzgerald said.

From receiving drawings and gifts from her youngest neighbors, to donations from businesses like Happy Little Dumpsters and Domino’s, she said the support has been overwhelming.

Even people like Deb Tewksbury and Karen Lord, who did not live in the neighborhood or knew the family personally, volunteered their time.

“To be honest, my mom is in Tennessee and I would like to think someone would do the same for her,” Lord said.

“We all long to be a part of a community and COVID-19 has kind of taken that personal connection away from us, so this feels like we’re back together and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, helping people out,” Tewksbury said in agreement.

They say that’s what it means to be a neighbor.

“This negative note that someone did has turned into such a positive outcome for everyone. And it really shows what this community is about,” Fitzgerald said.

The family received roughly $300 in donations. They’re deciding to pay it forward, by giving what they don’t use for the repairs and landscaping to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

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