POWHATAN – When Habitat for Humanity – Powhatan’s critical repair team comes into a house with major problems, they are not looking to create a dream home. They are there to make sure local residents have at least the basic acceptable standard of living.
But that doesn’t mean that when they take the time and effort to help local people in need who are experiencing drastic problems with their housing that they are not making someone’s dream come true.
The nonprofit organization held its annual meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Mill at Fine Creek, where supporters learned about the accomplishments of 2019 as well as plans for the future.
The accomplishments they could list off were significant, including finishing the local Habitat’s 13th house and starting construction on its 14th; having healthy returns at the Habitat Store; updating the nonprofit’s website, https://www.habitatpowhatan.org; and 6,166 volunteer hours of work, said Roseleen “Spud” Rick, executive director.
But perhaps where they were able to see the biggest impact in 2019 so far has been with the local nonprofit’s critical repair program, which started in 2011 and has involved more than $175,000 in repairs and 1,800 volunteer hours on more than 150 projects, she said.
Since July 1, the nonprofit has performed or been involved in 21 critical repairs.
“When we build a house we help one family. When we do critical repairs … we help many more families,” she said.
At the annual meeting, Rick challenged those in attendance to imagine they were a senior with disabilities and an annual income of $15,610 a year, all of that coming from Social Security or disability checks, and no savings. Now imagine being in that scenario and living with the horrifying reality of black mold all over your bathroom, she said.
Think of a woman who worked hard, raised her children, and now is taking care of her grandchildren while living on a modest retirement. Then the roof caves in, literally.
Those are realities real people in Powhatan have faced, and Habitat has been able to help them, she said.
When Habitat gets that call, they send out the A Team – Dan Niccolucci, Joe Romeo, Bob Butt, and Barry Watkins. Niccolucci usually goes first to assess the situation and figure out an estimate. When the other men go to the house with an issue, if they can fix it, they get to work. If they don’t have the skills – they don’t replace roofs or do electricity or plumbing – they call local partner contractors.
“We are very, very blessed because we’ve got many trades people in the county who are willing to help Powhatan. What they do, in addition to helping us and giving us a break, we move to the top of their list so that the people who need help are not without help for a long period of time,” Rick said.
Some of the repairs are also made possible because of partnerships with the Coalition of Powhatan Churches and the Powhatan County Department of Social Services. The three organizations recently worked together to help one man replace his roof.
When he visits homes of those requesting help, Niccolucci said he usually finds people who are elderly or have disabilities and are living alone.
Since July 1, Habitat has responded to a need for six roof repairs or replacements; two homes with miscellaneous carpentry needs; two window repairs; five drywall and ceiling repairs; four plumbing repairs, one handicap accessible bathroom, and one HVAC repair.
“All of these things make living in a home the bare minimum but sensible and safe – that is what we are all about,” he said.
The need in Powhatan is great, but so too is the capacity of people willing to help, Rick said. Habitat has three main needs: monetary donations, volunteers, and referrals for finding those people who need help the most.
“We can help more people than we do, but we need to know where they are. So, if you see someone who needs help, let us know where they are,” Rick said.
The organization also has needs for donated land, which is hard to come by in Powhatan; volunteers for the Habitat store and donated items to sell there, and volunteers for the construction and critical repair projects.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity – Powhatan, contact 804-594-7009 or visit https://www.habitatpowhatan.org.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.