Shirley Ann Williams enlisted in the US Army at age 22 hoping for a better life for her and her young daughter. However, separation became too much for the young private to bear and she was honorably discharged after completing advance training. Shirley returned to Midland to raise her daughter and eventually married Billy Hicks, a longtime employee at Fort Benning.
The Hicks happily settled in the Oak Crest subdivision of East Columbus until tragedy stuck the family from all sides. Over a decade ago, Shirley’s teenage daughter was brutally murdered by their next-door neighbor. Dealing with the death of her only child, Mrs. Hicks suffered from depression and various health problems that later lead to a massive stroke. Left with limited mobility, speech and the memory of daughter, the cost of medical care and the need for extensive home repairs was taxing on the Hicks’ budget that only included Mr. Hicks’ meager wages and Shirley’s disability income.
In 2013, the Hicks’ reached out to NeighborWorks Columbus for foreclosure assistance and received a loan modification that allowed getting back on track with their finances. Once the Hicks had successful completed their trial modification period, they were referred to the Veterans Rehab Program since Mrs. Hicks had shared with NWC foreclosure counselor about the disrepair of their home and how it affected her health. Upon inspection, it was determined the Hicks were in desperate need of a roof, HVAC system and major exterior work among other things. Luckily, Shirley and Billy qualified for $12.5K in rehab work from NWC that included replacing the roof and HVAC system. House of Heroes partnered with NWC to complete the exterior work and honored the former PVT Shirley Hicks for her service. During the ceremony, Mrs. Hicks cried tears of sorrow in memory of her daughter and tears of joy for organizations like NeighborWorks Columbus and House of Heroes helping her when she needed it the most.