Six months ago, the Meadowview home belonging to Stephon Clark’s grandparents was falling apart.
The awning that covered the back patio – where Tommy and Sequita Thompson’s 22-year-old grandson was shot to death by police – was “hanging on by spiderwebs,” one contractor said. The brick facade, a cross laid into it, was falling away from the house, and the brick pillars were so dilapidated you could push them over with your hand, he said.
In the aftermath of the shooting that grabbed national headlines, City Councilman Larry Carr, who represents the district including Meadowview, saw that the family was gripped with grief and their house was in bad shape.
“One thing we can say was that the family was hurting,” he said. “I could see the house needed some upgrades and the spot where Stephon was shot brought anguish to them … And we thought changing the look of things would help the family get some comfort and relief.”
Sequita, Stephon’s grandmother, left her home of 11 years after the shooting to stay with family in Los Angeles because being in the house was too painful, she said sitting in her living room last week, just feet away from the patio where she saw her grandson lying dead. She said she still can’t bring herself to go in the backyard.
Her husband, Tommy, is having trouble sleeping and still hears Clark’s voice, she said.
When it came to funding the improvements, Carr asked south Sacramento businessman Paul Blanco to help.
Blanco is one of the largest employers in south Sacramento. He is well-known for his radio ads promoting his fleet of car dealerships across California and Nevada.
He is less-known for being a longtime Meadowview resident.
“Larry Carr came to me and said the family house is falling apart, and I said, ‘OK, let’s do something about it,’” Blanco said.
“What motivated me to do it? Because I could,” he said. “(The house) is a couple blocks from where I work. My children grew up well here (in Meadowview). I’ve got South Sac pride.”
Blanco has poured more than $30,000 of his own money into the project, hiring a contractor and buying materials to repair the home that has been in the family for more than 40 years. He’s even started selling things he doesn’t need any more to raise money for the project, he said.
“The family that lives in this house is the center of the family,” Blanco said. “So this is the community center for the entire family … They go there for inspiration, for leadership, elders gather there with the children. There’s constantly people going home.”
The walls of the Thompsons’ dining room and living room are lined with so many family photos that the wall underneath is barely visible. A portion of the living room is covered with photos of Clark, showing him in his high school football uniform and posing with his family.
Blanco said his son was friends with Clark, but he’d never met Clark’s family before.
“We’ve become friends, and it’s a treasure to me,” he said.
Blanco hired a contractor, and Habitat for Humanity brought in volunteers, and “they just started fixing stuff,” Blanco said.
On a recent sunny and hot afternoon, about 10 people worked in the backyard laying cement for a new pathway. Tommy is in a wheelchair after losing his legs to a diabetic amputation, and the pathway in the backyard was too narrow for him to navigate.
“I love it!” Tommy said.
Volunteers also planted new landscaping and laid cement for a new patio in the front yard so family can gather there for barbecues, because the backyard has become a sore point for many of them, said Ramon Venegas, the site foreman who is also a Meadowview resident, living just two blocks away.
Every single brick on the house was pulled off, chipped clean, and laid again with fresh mortar. The house got new siding and fresh coat of dark gray paint. Tommy picked the color, he said with a smile. A few windows that were damaged were replaced, and the awning over the back patio was rebuilt.
The brick cross over the garage now looks brand-new.
“First, I give honor to God and give him the glory, you know, because he’s the one that’s getting us through this,” Sequita said. “And I also thank him for sending all the wonderful people out here to do this for us. And it won’t bring (Stephon) back but it has him in spirit through the home . . . It will just be wonderful for a new start.”
Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM