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WARMing homes after the holiday season

Volunteers work together to make homes warm, safe for those in need

Posted: December 9, 2011 2:11 p.m.
Updated: December 12, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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The youth from Lyttleton Street UMC reroof a house during last years project.

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The main goal of the Weatherization And Repair Ministry (WARM) is to make the homes of those in need warmer and safer after the holiday season.

WARM was formed when the youth group at Lyttleton Street United Methodist Church expressed an interest in helping those in the community who were affected by Hurricane Hugo.

Sara and Richard Hagins, both youth group leaders at the time, agreed to help organize a home repair project to take place after New Years in 1989.

“We have always planned it around the beginning of January so high school and college students can help out,” she said. “But anyone is welcome to volunteer.”

What began as a project to help the victims of Hurricane Hugo quickly became a yearly tradition to help residents in Kershaw County and surrounding areas receive free home repairs.

This year, WARM will take place Dec. 30 – 31 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are provided both days to the volunteers. On Jan. 1, the following Sunday, a celebration worship service will be held at 6 p.m. at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Knights Hill Road.

Homeowners, volunteers and the community are encouraged to come to the Sunday worship service, Sara said. An offering plate will be passed around to benefit WARM.

“We’re actually asking for families that can, to help with the cost of materials to fix their homes,” Sara said.

A slide show of pictures from the event will also be shown at the service, and volunteers and homeowners will have the opportunity to share their experiences with one another.

Much like Salkehatchie, a week-long project during the summer that offers home repair, WARM has grown to include many dedicated volunteers as well as the support from 13 local churches.

“We wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we have without the support of the community and the local churches,” Sara said, adding the funding that comes from the churches allows them to buy the materials and tools necessary.
This year, WARM will be finishing three houses that were unable to be finished this summer by Salkehatchie.

“The main things we’re going to be doing to those houses is underpinning and adding insulation so the homeowners can be warm throughout the winter,” Sara said. “We try to finish everything we start.”

Another priority, Richard said, is safety.

“We’ve seen mobile homes that only have one safe exit, where the back door is either boarded up, or it doesn’t have any steps,” he said.

If a fire occured, Richard said, those inside may not be able to get out, and that’s a serious problem.

In order to complete all the necessary repair to the homes, Sara said they are still in need of skilled volunteers, particularly roofers, electricians and plumbers.

“The number of volunteers and their skills determine how many homes we can repair during the two days we work,” Sara said.

Most of the homes to be repaired by WARM are recommended by Marie Sheheen, the housing coordinator at the United Way of Kershaw County. Sheheen takes applications including what type of repairs are needed and passes them along to WARM, where the home are previewed by Richard or other volunteers to get a scope of work. From there, the decision is made on which homes can be helped.

“This is a really good thing that Richard and Sara are doing,” Sheheen said. “They put their all into this and the community is a better place for it.”

Homes not recommended by Sheheen come from church members who are aware of a family in need.

“Those homes go through the same preview process,” Sara said.

Volunteers for warm can expect to rip out bathroom floors, replace windows, replace rotting stairways, fix broken pipes, paint, replace doors, install insulation, shingle roofs and build ramps.

If interested in participating in WARM as a volunteer, fill out the above form and return it to any of the participating churches. Other churches interested in getting involved or for more information can call Richard at 432-4596.

Donations can be made through Lyttleton Street Methodist or any of the other local churches involved.

Participating churches include Camden First UMC, Emanuel UMC, St. John’s UMC, St. Paul UMC, Salem UMC, Springhill UMC, Gordon Street COG, The River Church, Mt. Zion Baptist, St. Matthew Baptist, Union Baptist and Edwards Chapel AME.

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