No matter the weather, a home should provide shelter. But even those with a home sometimes have trouble escaping the elements. When it rained, Gwendolyn Tidwell would use buckets to catch water leaking from the ceiling. After pulling together her limited resources to pay for repairs, the contractor skipped out and left her with a leaky roof and no money to hire someone else. One day, Gwendolyn heard about an organization that helped another homeowner in a similar situation. She contacted Home Works of America, who quickly sprang into action to repair the roof and give Gwendolyn a dry place to call home again.
Home Works repairs homes for elderly or disadvantaged homeowners who are retired or disabled and live on limited income. Through its volunteer efforts, the Irmo-based Christian organization promotes youth development and empowers communities across the Southeast and in Peru. Since 1996, over 35,000 volunteers from a variety of faiths have joined together to repair homes and bring hope to more than 2,000 homeowners. Repairs are done at no cost to homeowners and are funded by individual donors, foundations, corporate sponsors, and city and county governments.
When Home Works arrived at Gwendolyn’s home in December 2013, a team of volunteers came to help, including 40 Fort Jackson recruits on holiday leave. Over two days, they reroofed the home, installed a porch handrail, rebuilt the exterior wooden fence, and reattached siding on the house. They also picked up trash, raked the yard and spent time with Gwendolyn. Because her recent hip and knee replacement surgeries left her reliant on disability payments, these repairs wouldn’t have been possible without Home Works.
“They did what I couldn’t do for myself on my limited income,” she said. “They supplied everything to fix my home and the people to get the job done.”
Gwendolyn looks forward to enjoying a safe home for years to come. “My new roof will keep my house from deteriorating, so I don’t have to worry about further damage,” she said. “The porch railing gives me more protection so I feel comfortable going in and out, and the fence repairs provide me with privacy.”
In addition to repairing her home, Home Works also offered Gwendolyn hope. When they finished, the team prayed with Gwendolyn, blessed her home and gave her a care package with cleaning supplies. “The repairs are just a byproduct of what we do,” said Hank Chardos, founder and program director of Home Works. “Spending time with homeowners helps us find out who they are so we can best serve them. Gwendolyn’s home was a special project because we were able to make repairs and convey a message of hope – which is what we’re all about.”
Now in its 19th year, Home Works plans to reach out to even more homeowners in need. “We’re working to grow our organization by forming new partnerships that will better enable us to meet the needs of communities, one home at a time,” said Jim Powell, executive director of Home Works.
In the future, Gwendolyn hopes to give back by helping others in her community. “Many residents here survive on a limited income,” she said. “With the high cost of repairs, they would benefit from Home Works’ generosity. I hope to help the organization improve someone else’s home since they did so much with mine.”
For more information about Home Works, visit www.homeworksofamerica.org.