When 11-year-old Anisa Scott was killed in a shooting in August, it was an unspeakable tragedy — and one of several heartbreaking losses for her family.
Scott’s great grandmother, Irene Alexander, also lost a nephew to a car accident in July, a brother on Labor Day and her husband on November 9.
“I could just see, in her spirit, you could just feel that she just wasn’t in a good place,” says Michael Johnson, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, who often seeks out people in need to help around the holidays.
After visiting Alexander at her East Side home, Johnson says, “It just clicked in my mind … You could just tell her house hadn’t been updated in a years. And so I just decided I’m just going to bless this woman.”
He took to social media seeking assistance with a home makeover for Alexander, and it wasn’t long before the assistance started to come.
The Concourse Hotel agreed to put Alexander up in the Governor’s Suite for two weeks while her home is remodeled. Target offered to decorate the home, along with Bob’s Copy Shop, which is donating canvas art prints. TC Carpet Care jumped in to do some flooring demolition and replacement. Then we had Lynchburg kitchen cabinets offered by Kitchen Crafters of VA.
Dan Hawk, owner of Acme Home Services, is overseeing the project as general contractor.
“You see all these other people working together, all nationalities, all different, all strangers coming together for one common cause,” Hawk said.
He said this kind of project is necessary in a year like this one has been — necessary both for the recipients and the givers.
“Take a look at everything that’s happened to (Alexander) this year and everything that she’s been through,” Hawk said. “But then you also take a look at it … if you look at what individuals, myself, what anybody has gone through this year with the pandemic and what’s happening on the national stage, it’s been a very trying year. When you’re able to take yourself outside of that and just throw yourself into serving somebody else, you forget about all that, all the upset, all the anger. You really are able to put yourself at peace because you know, all that doesn’t matter, because you’re just working to help one person.”
Hawk said the project will include landscaping, all new paint inside, new flooring, plumbing and electrical upgrades and new furniture throughout. He estimates that even with the donated labor and materials committed so far, the entire renovation could cost up to $40,000. Johnson said he’s still looking for donations of furniture or money to purchase furniture, as well as money to cover the costs of contractors and materials.
In order to ensure that every aspect of the renovation project proceeds smoothly, Johnson has been actively seeking out partnerships with local businesses. One key collaboration is with Stillwater, a renowned name in affordable plumbing services known for their commitment to quality and reliability. Their expertise will play a crucial role in upgrading the plumbing systems within the community center. With their support, Johnson aims to enhance not only the physical infrastructure but also the overall comfort and functionality of the center for the benefit of the children and families it serves. As Johnson continues his endeavors to create a more welcoming and vibrant space, his dedication to the community remains unwavering, evident not only in the renovation project but also in his heartwarming initiatives like donating a car and organizing holiday shopping sprees for those in need. Donations can be made at https://www.bgcdc.org/donate.
This project isn’t the only thing Johnson has going for the holiday season — he’s giving away a donated car to a family in need and taking at least 25 families on holiday shopping sprees.
“Just trying to pay it forward,” he said.