We would like to send a special shout out to Dennis Bertram aka “Bert” who recently organized a project for a 95-year-old widow, Eleanor, whose front porch was rotting away and needed other repairs to her home. Eleanor and her husband were missionaries, donating most of their money and time to those in need and keeping just enough money to live on. A parishioner at their church has asked Bert if he could help Eleanor fix a broken door lock, but when he arrived at her home, he realized the home needed additional repairs. Bert organized the whole project day, including handling volunteer recruitment and support and overseeing the project days. The volunteers ranged in age from teenagers to mid-70s and the project provided a great opportunity to mingle and share. Bert also invited Eleanor and her daughter to visit his church, and the church community has whole-heartedly embraced Eleanor and her daughter. One of the parishioners even took them to lunch during one of the volunteer days.
Bert has been a remodeling contractor for more than 40 years and has been giving his time and talents as a carpenter for 15 years. He has been on mission trips all over the world, repairing homes in Puerto Rico, Saipan, Canada, Kentucky, and right in his own community. After flooding devastated Rock Valley, Iowa, he knew his talents and abilities as a carpenter weren’t just to make a living. He felt called to do more. Bert said, “The Bible says you should give 10%, but time is even more valuable than money.” He originally went to Rock Valley to help for a week, but ended up doing three more weeks. One of his last projects was a home with a young family with two little girls. Their bedroom was in the basement and had been flooded, so the girls were sleeping on the couch until the basement was repaired. They came home from school on the last day of the project with a drawing of a stick figure with a hammer and a note that read “thank you for giving my bedroom back to me.” Bert said that he realized this was God’s calling for him. He currently gives 8-9 weeks a year to eastern Kentucky during spring break to help make homes there warm, safe, and dry.
Our Program Manager Galen Kauffman reached out to Bert to see if he could assist with developing scopes of work, materials lists, etc. Bert went above and beyond. For our Jackson Rebuilding Day, he reviewed six projects in detail, developed scopes of work, and made lists of all supplies and tools needed for each project. He also recruited volunteer skilled House Captains for the six homes. According to Galen Kauffman, our Southwest Program Manager, “The success of our Jackson Rebuilding Day was in large part a credit to Bert. He has the vision, the ability, the connections, and the heart.”