-- After years of taking care of her school, a custodian got the thank you of a lifetime.
Brenda Hurst, who’s been the head custodian at Boiling Springs High School in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, for the last 20 years, finally has a place to call home thanks to her students and community.
The Campobello, South Carolina, house where Hurst grew up and lived with her brother burned down in June last year. The home had been in her family since it was built in the 1900s, and the only thing that survived the fire was her family bible.
“When I got there, it was on fire. There was nothing left,” Hurst told ABC News. “There was a lot of memories in that house.”
Boiling Springs High School principal Chuck Gordon said he immediately called the student council and staff members to see what they could do.
“She’s always there. I’d dare say she’s spent her whole paycheck on kids in the school,” Gordon told ABC News. “She found herself hurting, and it was our turn to give back to her.”
One of the students, student body president Alexis Ork, said she immediately knew what she wanted to do when Gordon told her what happened.
“The first thing I said was, ‘I need to give her a home,’” Ork told ABC News.
Ork talked to her student council advisor, and the school soon came together to start raising money towards buying Hurst a mobile home.
“When people come to our football games at Boiling Springs, they hear her laugh. They know Ms. Brenda,” Ork said. “So we started getting sponsors from businesses in Boiling Springs.”
But after Mike Ravan, executive director of United Carpenters for Christ in Spartanburg, South Carolina, read about Hurst’s story, he called Gordon and offered to help build Hurst a new home.
“Mr. Gordon told me, ‘Ms. Hurst, don’t worry about it. Boiling Springs will help you. They will build you a house,’” Hurst recalled.
With donations from the school and community and help from volunteers, Carpenters for Christ was able to build and furnish a new home for Hurst. While she knew they were building a new house for her where her old one burned down, the school asked Hurst to stay away while it was constructed. Hurst, who had ben staying with family this past year, didn’t see her new home until its dedication ceremony yesterday.
“We had put her behind a bus and had that ‘Move that bus’ moment,” Gordon said. “She saw the house, and she went crazy.”
“So many people were there to support me, and all I could do was cry. I boo-hoo-hoo-ed like a baby,” Hurst said. “They said, ‘How do you like the house?’ I said, ‘It’s like I’m in Beverly Hills, but I know it’s not California.”
The house was decorated and furnished with the school colors black, silver, white and red, which is also Hurst’s favorite color.
“I said, ‘If I don’t get anything else, I want a red door and a red couch,’ and that’s what I got,” said Hurst.
Hurst also received things she never had in a home before.
“She never had a washer and dryer. Now she has new ones,” Ravan said. “She never had air conditioning, and now she does.”
“I was just so happy that I had a chance to change her life for the better and that I was part of giving her something more because she deserves so much,” Ork said.
Hurst has not yet moved in, but she’s already thinking of using her new kitchen to thank everyone by making them all banana pudding.
“That’s what I’m famous for — my banana pudding,” Hurst said.
“It’s a lot, but I love them like they love me. And I don’t mind.”