Last week we caught up with Joe Burkett of Neighborhood Solutions in Guthrie, OK. He gave us an update on the work his organization is doing on the home of banjo legend John Hickman, whose illness had rendered him incapable of performing repairs or maintenance on his home.
Thanks to a fundraising appeal that Burkett set up in June at GoFundMe, $14,500 have been donated, initially for a new roof. But the donations so exceeded the costs of the roof that work has begun making many additional repairs on the home that John shares with his wife Susie.
Here is Joe’s update…
“We have completed the roof. We have also put a new floor, toilet, and vanity in the downstairs bathroom. We have a contractor who is going to start work replacing and/or repairing damaged ceilings and walls (some will have to be completely replaced). He wants to let everything dry out well inside before he starts working (everything was waterlogged).
We are getting quotes now on guttering and painting. We can do most of the trim painting with volunteers, but we are working with Home Depot and a government job training agency on trying to get them to do a complete paint job. We don’t want to start painting the trim unless we get a ‘no’ from these partners. The house needs all new windows, but we don’t have the money for that.
The roof was the main objective. It is going to take time to get the rest of it done.”
Bluegrass fans will recall Hickman’s work with Byron Berline and Dan Crary during the 1970s and ’80s, providing solid, no-frills banjo to match their fiery picking. He moved east from California with Berline to Oklahoma some years ago where he had been teaching and doing luthiery work until his health failed.
It’s been a hard summer for John, now 72 years old. He is suffering from heart problems and cancer, and fell in July resulting in a broken hip. Fortunately he came through hip surgery with no issues, and has been recovering nicely at home.
Friends report that the Hickmans are overjoyed with the improvements to their home, and the others yet to be completed. They share their deepest thanks to everyone who has helped in any way.
Additional donations are still being accepted online.