Local News

Robeson County woman, cats get new homes

Posted September 3, 2009
Updated September 4, 2009

— Three years after her home was condemned by the city, Lessie Smith and nearly all of her cats have found new places to live.

Smith’s previous home in St. Pauls had flies and roaches, a leaky ceiling and a bedroom with no ceiling. She also cared for 61 cats, after one stray cat kept visiting and having kittens.

“I didn’t want animal control taking them down there and putting them to sleep. I wanted them to have a good life,” Smith said.

Felicia Locklear, a code enforcement officer for the five-county Lumber River Council of Governments, received a complaint about the home in 2006. “The floorboards were rotting out. They were all uneven,” she said.

Robeson County woman, her cats get new homes Robeson woman moves from condemned home

Locklear had to condemn the home but applied for a grant through the state Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Assistance.

The grant was enough for Smith to purchase a $40,000 modular home, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Smith refused to leave her original home, though, until all of her cats were taken care of.

Katherine Gable, who was with the Humane Society in 2006, helped find new homes for all the cats. Only two kittens had to be euthanized. Smith said she never knew about the Humane Society, and that’s why she cared for the cats herself.

“She had no money for herself, and everything she had was going toward the cats,” Gable said.

A local pastor helped Smith fix up the house so Smith could stay there until she could move into her new home.

On Aug. 20, Smith moved into the modular home. Four days later, her old house – the one she was born in in July 1941 – was demolished.

“It was home because I was born and raised there. But it’s better to get out of. I was glad to see it go down,” Smith said.

Smith called her new home a gift from God. She lives there with her two parakeets and doesn’t plan to get any more cats – although cat statues decorate the new home.

“I love them, but they’re in a good home. I never wanted this to happen," Smith said.

A fund has been set up to help Smith pay the $2,900 it cost to demolish her old home. The Lessie W. Smith Home Demolition Fund is through the First Bank of St. Pauls located on Broad Street.


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  • chimp1111 Sep 4, 2009

    This is the way it is supposed to be. We are put on this earth to love one another and care about one another. The other things dont matter.

  • chimp1111 Sep 4, 2009

    I think Matthew 25:35 says it all:35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,I was a stranger and you invited me in,36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' and Matthew 22:36--->36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it:Love your neighbor as yourself