Joseph is a veteran who served our nation well. Now retired and living on a meager fixed income in the small Appalachian community of Pine Ridge in McDowell County, West Virginia he struggles to keep food on the table and his bills paid each month.
There is no money left over for home repairs.
And that’s where we, with our grassroots partner there, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA), teams of volunteer college students came in.
Each spring, BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson pores over dozens of applications for the home rehabilitation program she oversees deciding which households are most in need in repair when she came across Joseph’s.
“There are so many things that need to be done to this home it was hard to decide where to start,” Marsha told us.
One of the first priorities was repairing the bathroom floor which appeared to be a relatively simple job of only having to replace the top floor.
“NOPE! No such luck,” she said. “When we got there tearing out the top floor we saw that subfloor was also rotted out. When we tore out the subfloor we saw the joists were rotten.”
Once they had the entire floor and joists out they realized that the walls were also rotten. And once they had those out they realized “the plumbing was a nightmare” and on top of that the pipes were lead.
“We are basically constructing him an entirely new bathroom,” Marsha said, replacing both the bathtub and the sink. “The only thing we were able to save was the toilet (even though we did have to buy a new seat for it). Thank goodness it hadn’t gone through the floor and busted!”
Three teams of college students began working under the supervisor of an experienced contractor worked on the house this past March.
In the first week of March a team from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey came in and did a lot of the demolition, followed by a second Rider team the following week which completed the demolition work and started on construction. Next up was a group of students from Notre Dame University which did the plumbing and more construction work.
All three groups also worked on the installing sheetrock and painting the house, as well as tearing out old rotting steps and installing new vinyl siding.
And that’s not all. In April, Marsha has scheduled a group from the First Parish Church of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and in May a group of students from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky who will be coming in to work on the steps and porch.
It’s no wonder why Marsha dubbed this house “the never-ending work project” as there is still much work to do in the bedroom and kitchen as well.
“We thought the project was going to take a week and we started at the first of March and we still have so much to do,” Marsha said. “Some people may think we are doing too much for this one home, but I disagree. How much is ‘too much’ for someone that served our country?”
The story continues….
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