By Billy Corriher
Lillian Bussey has done a lot for the Clayton County Association of Retarded Citizens in her 15 years as a volunteer there. But when she learned of the honor she was receiving for her efforts, she was "flabbergasted."
Bussey recently procured a grant for the ARC from the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation to build a new home.
The house, she was surprised to learn, will be located on Lillian Lane, which was renamed in her honor on Thursday.
"I just couldn't believe it," she said, adding that she does not deserve all the credit for the home.
"It's been my pleasure to do what I've done for them."
Bussey, 83, now uses a walker and can not be as active in the homes as she was before.
"In the last couple of years, I can't do as much as I used to," she said.
But when the ARC told her they wanted to build a wheelchair accessible home, Bussey said she was "thrilled," and she negotiated the 150,000 grant from the Wilson Foundation to pay for most of the costs.
Bussey said she talked with people she knew on the foundation's board of directors and secured the grant.
"I've done the legwork I guess," she said.
Bob Reynolds, chairman of the Clayton County community service board, said the ARC needed the new home because they were gaining more clients with wheelchairs, but did not have homes that were suitable for wheelchairs.
Reynolds said the ARC's clients were getting "cramped" at the current facilities.
The new home, Reynolds said, will be much more comfortable for the ARC's clients in wheelchairs. The house includes large doorways, hallways and large, accessible bathrooms. Each bedroom also includes a fire exit that is wide enough for a wheelchair.
"It's better to have a little extra room than not enough," Reynolds said.
The home, called the "Crenshaw House," is named after Bussey's brother, Emory K. Crenshaw, who passed away in 1991 and used to be the head of the Wilson Foundation.
Bussey said she is glad her brother would also be honored at the facility. As a volunteer, Bussey often helped plan Christmas parties for the ARC and her brother would buy presents for the residents.
Reynolds said Bussey's effort was essential for funding the house, but she said she has always enjoyed helping the organization.
"It's just always had a special place in my heart," she said.