Not exactly the Brady's
By By Laura Courson, Staff Writer
Melvin and Jacqueline Dortch's family home is unlike any other household. The family lives in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house were they have turned an office into an additional bedroom.
Why the need for additional space? Ten people live in the Dortch house.
In 1994 when Melvin's sister Sharron James died from cancer, the Dortches took in her eight children.
At the time Melvin and Jacqueline had been married only two years and were living in a three bedroom Jim Walter home. "We didn't think we could handle all 8, maybe 2 or 3, but when the state said they would separate them and put them in foster homes, we knew we had to take them in," said Melvin. Needless to say with the addition of Rodney, Robert, Nicholas, Monek, Lenada, Alexis, Shemesha and Wysteria, they needed a bit more room.
With the help of community donations and the donation of $2,000 from the McMillian Foundation Trust Fund the Dortches were not only able to pay the $1,000 owed on Sharron's funeral, but they were also able to finance their current home.
With the overnight growth of their family the Dortches had to learn to be thrifty with their money. "I started clipping coupons and going to the grocery store on triple coupon days, I don't think Melvin believed how much we saved till he came to the store with me," said Jacqueline.
Over the past 8 years the Dortch family has not only grown in physical size but also in number. Shortly after the children came to live with them, the oldest girl, Monek, gave birth to a baby girl of her own, Michelle.
The "growing" family is still in need of more room, although Monek has moved to Atlanta and Michelle will soon join her mother.
They nearly got the space they so desperately needed when Liberty Church offered to donate the old sanctuary as an addition to the Dortch home. All the Dortches needed to do was get enough money to pay for the expense of moving the building.
Unfortunately, the cost was quoted at $6,000 with the possibility of becoming more expensive should there be cables or telephone wires in the way. There would also be the additional expenses of partitioning and furnishing the sanctuary, and the cost of removing two trees from the location where the sanctuary would be added.
There was a fund set up at United Bank for donations and the Dortches sold BBQ and fried chicken plates to raise money.
Unfortunately, the bank fund only earned $47.00 and the plate sale only made $550.00. This was no were near enough for the February 28 deadline.
The contributions may not have helped the Dortches gain more space, but they did help to make the space they have more comfortable. When their 36-year-old cooling system recently failed they were able to replace it in time for summer.
The Dortches appreciate all the help the community has given them, but even with all the help they have received things are still difficult. They have a mortgage and car payments just like all other families, but other families don't have to foot the bills for the excessive utilities and a $500-$600 grocery bill that is required each month just to keep the family fed and healthy.
The grocery bill has taught the family to enjoy whatever food they have because they cant afford to be "picky eaters."
In a December interview Melvin Dortch explained why he and his family are so grateful for the help they have received.
The Dortch family is proud that despite all the help they have received, they have never had to beg.