103-year-old woman, spared eviction, gets new beds

A 103-year-old Atlanta woman who was spared foreclosure on the home she's lived in for half a century received a belated Christmas present Thursday.

A truck from the Mattress Firm pulled up Thursday morning carrying an estimated $6,000 in bedding and a cash gift for Vinia Hall and her 84-year-old daughter, Kathelyn Cornelius.

Paul Wallace, who made the delivery for Mattress Firm, said the company donated two adjustable beds and pillows. He said a Mattress Firm store manager heard Hall's story and sent a company-wide email to employees soliciting help, prompting the corporate office to donate the beds.

Employees also contributed a $600 money order to Hall, Wallace said.

James Clark, manager of the Buckhead store, was the one who got the ball rolling with the email soliciting help for Hall.

"This touches me like you can't believe," Clark said. "I saw the story and I sent out an email ... and decided that this was something we couldn't let go by. We had to step up. Within the first 30 minutes of sending out the email I got well over 30 responses instantly ... and it just kept rolling."

Clark said that at the Buckhead store, "I deal with a lot of seniors so they really touch my heart."

Hall was elated over the gifts.

"I appreciate it so much," she said. "I'm getting too much; I'm going to keep on living," she joked. "I just thank y'all so much."

She joked that she'd use some of the $600 to "buy me a dinner today."

In November, a crew of movers and Fulton County sheriff's deputies went to the home to evict Hall and her daughter but decided they couldn't go through with it.

After widespread media coverage, JPMorgan Chase, which administers the second mortgage, announced Nov. 30 it would work out a settlement and that Hall and Cornelius could stay in the home.

The issue over the home involves a second mortgage Hall's grandson took out almost 10 years ago.

In 2002, Ali Muhammad got a second mortgage on the house from Deutsche Bank National Trust, according to Fulton County Civil Superior Court records. That loan ultimately was administered by Chase.

Muhammad was listed as the owner of the home, though his grandmother had lived in it for decades. Seven years after getting the loan -- in March 2009 -- Deutsche foreclosed on the property.

Hall remained in the home while Muhammad fought the foreclosure, said Derrick Boazman, a former Atlanta City Council member who said he negotiated with the banks to keep the two elderly women from eviction.

Boazman said Thursday that the outpouring of support for Hall "talks about the goodness of this city."

He said the untold story is that Clark, the store manager who started the campaign, lost his own house to foreclosure a year ago.

"Out of the goodness of his heart, he said ‘I want to help them.'"

Boazman said others have come forward to offer help in fixing up the home and making repairs.

"In spite of recession, in spite of the economic downturn, people find a little bit in their hearts to give and during this holiday season, what more could you ask for?"