BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Willie Mae Bennett, 78, is slowing down.
"I've been out there trying to paint and do a lot of things that you all have done, I can't do it anymore," said Bennett.
A retired seamstress from the old Godchaux's Department Store, she's lived in her Walnut St. home for 42 years. Her house has seen better days. So has the neighborhood.
"To see the neighborhood transition, it's really sad. We had the first murder of 2015 right down the street from us here," said Patrick Carpenter, a volunteer who grew-up in the neighborhood.
That was two-weeks-ago, just walking distance from Ms. Bennett's front door and what will be her new entry ramp.
Volunteers with Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge try to make life a little easier for the local elderly. Monday, they worked at making the steps of Ms. Bennett's home more handicap friendly and they made preparations for a new paint job.
"We're scraping the paint of the walls so we can eventually repaint the house," said Charles Manogin, a volunteer.
"To live peacefully with one another, we thought this was a good thing to do. We wanted to be out here on this day that honors a man whose whole mission in life was to bring people together and preach peace," said Chris Andrews, Executive Dir. of Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge.
That old dream is being built piece by piece.
For Patrick Carpenter, the project is more than just lending a hand. He feels an obligation to restore his community.
"Helping rebuild one house at a time, really helping make a difference for this one lady at the house," said Carpenter.
To show her appreciation Monday, Ms. Bennett thanked volunteers from her porch.
"It's so nice to see all these smiling faces so early in the morning especially from young people, and I just appreciate so much the work you're doing and I'm so grateful," said Bennett.
When asked if the volunteer work was made any more special happening on Martin Luther King Day, Ms. Bennett answered,
"I'm celebrating what he would have celebrated if he would have been here. There's still good people in the world that are caring and I'm sure he would have felt so blessed to see this happening."