Community Stories

Vietnam War Veteran Gets New House

Cleatus Higgenbotham, with his name right out of a southern novel, has fallen on hard times. The Vietnam War veteran’s Florence home was in disrepair, but thankfully some good-hearted locals stepped in to help. 

The project began when Cleatus asked for a new air conditioner. Hearts for Homeless, a local nonprofit, stepped in to help him. 

“(We) came down to put it in and just noticed the whole house was falling apart,” said Angie McElyea, cofounder of Hearts for Homeless. “It was falling in. The ceilings were falling in and everything and we just couldn’t leave it like that so we had to do something.” 

Through their Facebook group, Hearts for Homeless raised more than $30,000 to help Cleatus. They razed the home and started rebuilding on the same land. Cleatus will have a new home as soon as construction is done. 

“I’m proud because this is the first time a bunch of people have helped me,” Cleatus said. “Nobody else will.” 

As soon as Cleatus’ neighbors saw the groundbreaking, they offered to help. One man owns a sheetrock business and volunteered to work on the home, while another, a police officer, helped direct traffic so volunteers could work. 

If you want to get involved with Hearts for Homeless, go to their Facebook page. If you’re ever in the Florence area, be sure to look out for Cleatus and his new home. 

About the author


Jessie Harbin

Jessie lives in Meridianville with her husband, baby and four dogs. She thrives on chaos, and loves finding good news stories where you least expect them.

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