When Jimmy McDonald drove by a Katy yard on Gagelake Lane and saw overgrowth galore, he was compelled to turn around. He saw massive bushes, dead trees, rotting plants, and mounds of trash. "Devastation, it's just horrible," he said.
In the middle of all that growth he found 73-year-old homeowner Virginia Zilic, who cannot speak. Throat cancer stole her voice a year ago. "Things just got beyond her control. For the last many years a lot of people been driving by and keeping on driving. 'Not you?' Not me. God told me to turn around, I did not question him I turned around," said McDonald.
Mrs. Zilic's medical issues also stole her ability to care for the yard she's loved for the past 42 years. It's the yard she raised four children in. She lives on social security and can't afford to hire a landscaping crew. Mrs. Zilic now communicates one letter at a time using a marker and dry erase board. "We bought this house for a garden for me. You love to work in the yard, you love to work in the garden and it's just too much for you," reporter Chris Stipes said, reading from her dry erase board. "It's really hard to do the bending over to pull weeds, the mower is hard on his back, my husband's back. My heart doctor let me know, physically, I can't get out here and do this," she wrote.
So what did she think when a total stranger walked up out of the blue and offered to cut her grass that same day at no charge? "It was overwhelming. I didn't know I could trust him, so many bad stories with old people," wrote Mrs. Zilic.
But it didn't take long for the two to connect. "But now that you've gotten to know the guy, thumbs up, thumbs up, ha ha," she wrote.
And oh, the work he has planned for what he calls "The Mrs. Zilic Project." "We're gonna take care of all that. Trim all these trees back, clean the house, have the driveway power washed, five trees taken down... sure could use help with that," said McDonald.
McDonald, who runs a sprinkler business, is mobilizing dozens of volunteers on his "Katy Water Works" website to give Mrs. Zilic a complete yard makeover -- for free. "This woman really needs us and that feels great," he said. "I never dreamed this. My husband will be surprised because he's out of town and doesn't know what's going on. No yard work for a week... yeah," wrote Mrs. Zilic.
All thanks to a man willing to lend a helping hand. "He's my angel," she wrote.
To join the efforts to help Mrs. Zilic: http://www.mysprinklerguy.com/katy_water_works_Zilic_Project.html