June 7, 2016 is a date that Jamia “Mia” Porcher will never forget. That was the day she lost the use of her arms and legs. Porcher was struck by a car after she had gotten out to check on the well-being of a stranger whose car had been hit by another vehicle.
She was a member of the Air National Guard’s “Swamp Fox” unit and on her way to McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Hopkins when the incident occurred. She had also completed her first year at Clemson where she made the Dean’s List as part of her pursuit of a Business Management degree.
Now, just over three years later, she has a new date to remember that will have better memories attached.
August 8, 2019 was the day Porcher was given the keys to a brand new home that was constructed just for her. Porcher utilizes a specialized wheelchair to get around. The new home was constructed with this in mind. It has more space in consideration of the wheelchair and provides other resources that allow Mia to experience more independence.
Through the grapevine
About eight months after Porcher’s initial accident, she spoke with the South Strand News. At that time, her family was organizing fund-raisers with a focus on obtaining a “smart home” that would allow Mia to be more independent. Furthermore, they were living in a rented mobile home that exacerbated the challenge of mobility and independence.
Even then her strong spirit was shining through. She admitted “things aren’t the easiest, but it could be worse.”
Michael Nieri is the Owner of Great Southern Homes. He was approached by a colleague regarding a donation for the Porcher cause. Nieri, described as a “great philanthropist” by Bill Erwin, an employee at Great Southern Homes, was moved by the story. Erwin said that Nieri is passionate about Clemson and the military, which fueled his desire to do more than provide a donation.
Nieri decided he was going to build her a home. He worked with his vendors and suppliers to get most of the house donated. They were put a little behind schedule due to Hurricane Florence in September of 2018. Which created a soggy and flooding conditions throughout the Georgetown area for a significant period of time. However, it only delayed a community dedicated to a woman who, as a soldier and a citizen, had sacrificed so much of herself.
Sharon Abee of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce addressed the crowd which consisted of Mia’s friends and family, Air National Guardsmen and many folks associated with the companies who helped build the house.
Abee admitted that she does a lot of ribbon cuttings and they have a giant pair of scissors to prove it. However, this ribbon cutting stood out for her.
“We are so happy to be here,” Abee said. “One of the things that struck me the most was how blessed I feel to be able to cut a ribbon for this young lady and her new home.
Doing this shows the best of Georgetown County.”
Jason Faulkner, Coastal Division Manager for Great Southern Homes, also spoke expressing an honor to be associated with the project and apologizing for the delay in completion. Harry Dill, Project Manager, was still digging and sweating to put the lid on the punch list as the heat index topped 110 degrees as Faulkner handed Mia the keys to her new house.
“It’s been an honor to be able to do this,” Faulkner said.
In addition to all of the vendors and companies associated with making the home a reality, it was also completed with the help of a Veterans Administration Specially Adapted Housing Grant.
Life goes on
Mia was all smiles as she spoke with friends and colleagues during the event. Food was provided in the garage provided some shade from the sun and everyone reflected on the project. Mia went inside with her family to see her house for the first time.
As wonderful as the house might be, Mia is the cornerstone. Her strength of character was mentioned on more than one occasion by those in attendance. It was no surprise then, that several friends of the Air National Guard took the time to come out. They included the chaplain, Deputy Commander and State Command Chief and others.
“Once a Swamp Fox, always a Swamp Fox” was stated a couple of times as well. She received hugs and flowers from her fellow guardsmen.
“It’s exciting,” Mia said.” I know it’s going to make things a lot easier and better. I’m real grateful to everybody who donated and helped.”
While the project may be finished, that does not mean it is time for Mia to relax. She is as determined and focused as she was when she spoke with the South Strand News in 2017. She just finished a summer session for Clemson and is entering her senior year. She is still pursuing a degree in Business Management. Her plan?
She wants to flip houses. Certainly, she has made some good contacts over the past year. But that is not what will make her successful.
Part Swamp Fox, part Tiger. Clever, resourceful, strong and fierce. Look out world, Mia is about to be on the loose.
For a complete list of vendors and groups who worked with Great Southern Homes to build the Mia Porcher Home visit www.greatsouthernhomes.com.