At 89 years old, Robert is fiercely independent. He has always been able to maintain his own home, which he has lived in for 49 years, and considers himself to be quite the handyman. But in 2011, he faced a problem he could not fix: heavy snowfall damaged his roof, which then led to other kinds of damage that threatened to force Robert from his home.
That’s when Servants Inc stepped in. Through its Home Helps program, which provides home repairs and maintenance services for York County homeowners with financial need, volunteers helped Robert fix his roof and address water damage that had gone unchecked for three years. And of course Robert was there each step of the way!
According to Trent Davis, founder and executive director of Servants Inc., nearly 80% of the people served by the program are older adults like Robert who are able to live independently and safely in their homes because of the help they receive from Home Helps. In 2015 alone, 74 older adult homeowners were able to get the home repairs they needed. That translates to a 31% increase in its project completion rate, thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Hahn Home Fund of York County Community Foundation in support of its Embracing Aging initiative.
The homeowners are not the only ones benefitting from the program. Most Home Helps volunteers are at least 50 years of age or older (there are 183 older adult volunteers) and they apply their skills and life experiences, as well as learn new talents, to help neighbors in need. This process builds an amazing sense of community. “We are their last line of defense, so to speak, as we step in when they have been turned away by local and state agencies and organizations,” said Davis. “Our older adult volunteers explain the process and the end result. When light comes back into their eyes and a smile settles on their face, we know our homeowner has already been helped and that’s why our older adult volunteers are so important – not just with their construction skills, but also with their relationship skills.”
As is customary, three months after the project was completed, Servants returned to Robert’s home to check up on him. The pride and delight Robert felt for his home again was evident. Davis recalled an emotional moment when Robert presented one of his most valuable possessions, an old silver dollar, to the Home Helps Director as a token of his deep appreciation for all they had done. Servants tried to return the coin, but Robert was adamant that Servants keep his gift. It is now one of Servants most prized pieces.
“It is truly a humbling experience working with older adults and getting to know and love the person they are, understanding where they are in life, and being a part of their happiness and joy when they know they can live at home longer in a safe and healthy environment,” said Davis. “Robert is one of hundreds of older adults Servants has developed a relationship with, worked side by side with, and created ways for them to live in their home for as long as they can.”
The Community Foundation is proud to support programs like Servants’ Home Helps so that it can meet the needs of more people like Robert in our community.