Story of the Week 1/22/2016
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
By Briana Baker, Home Repair and Weatherization Assistant at COVER Home Repair
Like so many nonprofits, COVER Home Repair could not do its important work
without volunteers that contribute thousands of hours of service every year. But, of course, challenges arise when such vital components of your organization lead complex lives and are freely giving their time and energy. It is easy to get frustrated when volunteers cancel last minute or don’t show up, but it should also be celebrated when they, as they frequently do, exceed our expectations.
I had heard about our plans to repair Raymond’s roof from the very first week of my AmeriCorps service with COVER. Raymond’s neighbor and friend, Fred, was one of the first COVER volunteers that I met, and conversations with him made it clear that it was going to be a significant project. Raymond had lived alone in the family house since the passing of his mother and sister, and was unable to address the repair and maintenance challenges of an old home. Leaks from the roof had created a variety of serious structural issues, and multiple sections of the ceiling had collapsed. We were certainly going to need a good crew of volunteers for this project.
When possible, friends, family, and neighbors of COVER homeowners assist with repair projects in their communities. This can be challenging, but sometimes, like in Raymond’s case, it brings people together in ways that don’t happen elsewhere in their lives. Of the 16 neighbors who came to help on Friday and the 22 people who came on Saturday, many already knew Raymond, but some did not. Most of them lived within a few blocks of each other, but some had never met. In addition to the structural repairs, new roof, and extra repairs and improvements to Raymond’s home that we were able to accomplish with the large and enthusiastic crew, new relationships with immeasurable benefits were formed. The spirit of fellowship and equity that was created that weekend offers some hope that it is possible and realistic to take care of each other and make our communities happier and safer for everyone.