Several kind-hearted area residents have come together to lend a hand to a pair of down-and-out brothers. While most would shield their eyes, lock their doors and drive onward, this group of selfless, generous individuals have recognized a need and worked tirelessly to fulfill it; without judgment or complaint. 

Any of us could be struck with financial ruin at any given moment. Our economic climate could plummet leaving each of us jobless, homeless and hopeless. We could be besieged by mental health issues, leaving us incapable of living in a “normal” manner or making “routine” decisions. 

One would hope that instead of shifted eyes, whispered insults and unfounded accusations or hurtful assumptions, helping hands would be offered. 

Two area men, dealing with a living situation that would leave most of us in complete despair, have experienced their fair share of whispers and insinuations. Through the caring spirits of their Rusk County neighbors, their situation is quickly becoming less dire and gradually shifting to something far more comfortable for them both. 

Brothers, Paul and Junior (last name withheld to protect their privacy) have weathered more than their fair share of struggle through the past few years. Junior, unable to work due to debilitating mental health issues, receiving a meager income from social security; lives happily in a camper in desperate need of repairs. Paul, receiving an equally small income has managed to make regular payments on a vehicle and the subsequent insurance necessary. This small truck has been his home for the past three years. While this situation is not ideal on any scale the brothers offer no complaint. They have found some semblance of happiness and comfort in their precarious situation. 

Unable to afford the cost of local trash collection, and overwhelmed by the volume of refuse accumulated, the brother’s sanctuary became a bit of an unintended landfill. 

With larger hearts than bank accounts, the brothers unintentionally adopted a gaggle of stray, mistreated and discarded dogs; further complicating their situation. Efforts to find suitable homes for these much-loved canines are underway, but assistance with this aspect of the project could prove invaluable. 

The search for public assistance has proven to be futile on multiple occasions, with routes for help leading to dead ends. Social outreach has been effective with donations regularly made available. Volunteers have shown up to clear away debris on land owned by the brothers; opening the way for new housing arrangements to be made. One small camper has been donated and is in the process of receiving needed renovations and brother, Paul, would like to attempt to build his own tiny home. While assistance and supplies have been donated more is needed; namely expertise. 

The act of building this home will work toward teaching the brothers a skill that could benefit them greatly in the future. The plan, according to volunteer project coordinators, is not to offer a temporary patch to their situation but establish a means for continued success. Through situational education and continued communication, concerned citizens turned friends hope to allow the brothers the opportunity to expand upon the work done and continue to improve their lives. 

Volunteer efforts are still in progress and a group will be meeting Feb. 22 and 23 to complete the first phase of the cleanup project. Materials for the tiny house build are trickling in but more will be needed. To donate time, supplies, or just wish the brothers well, project coordinators Lakin Gamble and Mandy Clark can be found on Facebook, where updates on the continued progress on their journey have been shared. 

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