VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Barbara Harris has spent a lifetime helping others, but she has kept one secret from some of her closest friends.
After the death of her husband in October, Harris’ secret was uncovered by friends who came to visit her at her mobile home in County View.
“I had no idea she was living in the condition she is living in,” said Karen Dickerson, director of Plaza Christian Academy where Harris has worked for 12 years.
Over the years, Harris admits she has put off important repairs at her home. Now, she is dealing with a leaky roof, broken windows and holes in the siding.
“Part of it is because Ms. Harris gives more than she takes,” said Dickerson. “If a parent asks her to babysit, she’ll say ‘oh no, no charge.'”
Harris says she is embarrassed by the condition of her home, but it makes her happy to have helped countless kids with a place to stay and families with hot meals and transportation.
“I’m sorry that I let so much time go that I didn’t get the work done, but now this is where I am at,” said Harris.
Plaza Christian Academy is now working to raise money to rebuild Harris’s home. Dickerson says it’s a $60,000 job.
“The whole trailer needs to be demolished and she needs a total new trailer,” said Dickerson.
Harris hopes one day she’ll feel comfortable inviting her students into her home.
“They always say, ‘Ms. Harris, when are we going to come to your house … I say, ‘soon , baby, as soon as I get it safe you are going to come over.'”
The school hopes that day come sooner rather than later.
“I love her,” said Dickerson. “I just wish people would give to this woman who has given so much to the community of Virginia Beach.”
Plaza Christian Academy can be reached by phone at (757) 486-4227 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dickerson says all checks should be made payable to “Plaza Christian Academy” and donors should write “Ms. Barbara Harris” on the memo line.