Disabled grandmother’s plea for help met with overwhelming support

A disabled grandmother thought she was going to lose everything.

Earlier this summer, the City of Spokane issued a citation that warned if Leisa James and her husband didn’t make repairs to their dilapidated garage and breezeway, the property on the corner of 28th and Freya could be condemned.

James has been in a wheelchair for more than a decade and her husband undergoes dialysis multiple times a week. She said they don’t have the ability or financial means to pay for upgrades like this. They also wouldn’t be able to afford any fees imposed on them.

“Nobody wants to have an ugly house,” James said. “It’s embarrassing and of course we’ve wanted it fixed up.”

But paying for a contractor to file the necessary permits with the city and doing the work wasn’t in their budget. James said her husband makes enough money, so they don’t qualify for special assistance. She felt like they were falling through the cracks when they received the notice.

“I don’t know how they expect somebody to deal with that, or they just don’t care,” James said.

They’d run out of options, so James shared her story on the app Nextdoor. Soon, it was full of comments offering help and then people started to show up.

Jennifer Weaser was among those offering to help.

“My sister was disabled. My father-in-law is disabled. I think that’s part of the reason it really angers us the way they’re being treated by the city and the county,” Weaser said.

Weaser first started talking to James through the Nextdoor app earlier this year. The two met when Weaser and her husband came by to help James fix their fence.

From there, strangers became friends.

So when James faced this new issue, Weaser was among the first to show up.

“You can’t complain about society degrading if you’re not going to be an active participant in trying to fix it,” Weaser said.

As this story spread, so did support for James and her husband. On Saturday, Reverend Ryan Pearson of Bethel Church of the Nazarene helped cut down trees, alongside Jeanne Gilbert and Weaser.

“It’s amazing to me how many people reach out and help their neighbors,” Gilbert said.

Donations have started to show up, both large and small. On Monday, Perfection Roofing offered time and resources to reroof the carport area for free.

When James got the news, she started to cry. Weaser told her this can be her new normal.

“When you told me about how a neighbor laughed at you, that’s not okay…That cannot be your normal anymore,” Weaser said. “What we are seeing now is what the new normal is supposed to be.”

Weaser said Tyler Lewis, with Miller Paints, offered to donate painting supplies for the house. Volunteers plan to meet there Saturday morning to paint. Anyone is welcome to join the project.

Weaser noted that they’re still looking for help to demolish the garage. To help, email jweaser@comcast.net.