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Elderly Woman Saved from Eviction by Her Caring Community

Just a few short weeks ago, 78-year-old Mary Cate Jones learned she was going to be evicted from her home in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee—the home she and her late husband built in 1956. She has spent the time since she learned of her pending eviction packing up her precious memories.

Mary Cate Jones
Michael Patrick/NEWS SENTINEL

Once her generous community got wind of her scary and unfair situation, they stepped up to the plate in a big way. Donations from over 500 people—including a $15,000 check from someone who wishes to remain anonymous—will allow Jones and her family to keep their home.

“It’s just remarkable how things fell into place. You just can’t believe it,” she told ABC News.
Until 2007, when she took out a $60,000 loan for major home repairs, Jones had never had a mortgage on the house. When her mortgage was sold several times, she fell behind on the payments. She wasn’t sure where she was supposed to send the payment.

Jones didn’t even find out about the deed being sold firsthand. She says she first learned about it from a notice in the paper. She found out the house was in foreclosure and that she was in the process of being evicted unless she paid $72,000 to save her home.

May Cate Jones
Michael Patrick/NEWS SENTINEL

Jones’s wheelchair-bound son and two teenage grandchildren live with her, and they enlisted help from anyone they could think of. Luckily, they thought of the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Pastor of First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Reverend William Shiell, knew he had to do something when he heard of the terrible plight a parishioner was facing.

The church used its nonprofit group, Heart of Knoxville, to help the family in need. They set up a fund for the family, and the local news media helped share the story. The 500 generous donors raised $57,000, and the anonymous donor gave the additional $15,000 needed to prevent the foreclosure and eviction.

“This is what the church ought to be doing,” said Shiell. He hopes this inspiring story motivates others to get involved in their communities.

Now that Jones will get to remain in her home, she’s busy unpacking those precious memories she unwillingly started packing up a few weeks ago.


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