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Local homeowners visited by home repair volunteers

Local homeowners visited by home repair volunteers

July 20th, 2013 in News

Dick Andre, right, provides help and supervision as Jace Stucky cuts a board to be used on deck repair. They are both from Ft. Wayne, Ind., and involved in the Hearts, Hands, Hammers (H3) program through Wesley United Methodist Church.

A handful of local homeowners will be visited by generous strangers who will repair costly projects for them.

Housing repair is a common ministry through the United Methodist Church. But Wesley United Methodist Church has put a different spin on it. Led by volunteer director Don Barnett, the local church decided to become a host and coordinator for mission outreach groups to come into the Jefferson City community.

Wesley has sent building teams out to other communities for 19 years. Barnett has been on 18 of those trips. So he has pulled the best of those experiences for the Hearts, Hands, Hammers (H3) ministry.

To be a welcoming host site, the Missouri 179 church updated its restrooms and showers.

Other best practices Barnett drew from were to offer meaningful work and good training.

"Its goal is to help improve the quality of life by improving living conditions that contribute to worsening poverty," Barnett said.

Eligible homeowners must qualify as low-income or with disabilities or as senior citizens, and their home must be within 15 miles of the city limits.

For Miriam Moseley, the H3 crew not only saved her hundreds of dollars in materials and labor, their work also will decrease her long-term utility bills.

While touring her home needs on an initial visit, Barnett saw the safety valve on the hot water heater was broken and thus steaming water was pouring onto the floor. That replacement alone should be a good savings.

She had standing water in her basement family room. Volunteers through H3 identified the exterior trouble spot and sealed it.

The trial group of volunteers from the local First United Methodist Church's junior high removed overgrown yard waste and cut Moseley's grass.

The primary job at Moseley's Rock Creek Road home was restoring and securing her deck.

Joists were sagging, the frame was no longer bolted to the home and wood was rotting.

Four adults and 15 senior high students from St. Joseph United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., hauled lumber and drove nails this week.

Moseley baked them treats in appreciation, and they gave her hugs before they left each evening.

An adult group from LaMonte and a college group from Springfield will each volunteer for a week later this summer.

About seven homes will have been touched by this pilot program's efforts.

"This is our test year to see if we can handle the pressure," Barnett said. "It's completely different when you're the host and not the people coming in, the innocent."

Looking to the summer of 2014, H3 will be seeking local home applicants.

Barnett has a dream to expand the program to add a community component. He would like to see local people who need a few home repairs but can't afford it be matched up with helpful people with the skills to make that happen.

With more than half of students enrolled at the Jefferson City Public Schools qualifying for free or reduced meals, Barnett said it's a good indicator of the poverty problem in the area.

Moseley has lived in her Rock Creek Road home since 1997, and her husband died this spring.

Through the Grief Share group at the Church of the Nazarene, she learned about H3.

"It's amazing what people will do to help other people," Moseley said. "The house is paid for. This might make me want to stay here a little longer."

Her late husband used to grill a lot on their deck. Moseley said she is looking forward to sitting on her new deck in the evening.

"I can't wait to get a new grill and put it on my new deck," she said.