Jackson Project Day Organized and Executed by Local Volunteer

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.”

Honeywell Team Builds Ramp for 17-Year-Old

Our amazing Honeywell Ramp Team recently built a ramp for a 17-year-old who uses a motorized wheelchair due to a hereditary disease that causes muscle deterioration.  Eight Ramp Team volunteers completed this ramp in one day! 

The ramp was constructed and installed in the garage.  According to long-time volunteer, Paul Parrish, this ramp was “quite different, well-designed, and a crafty workmanship ramp project.”  He went on to say the project was successful with a “happy family finish”!

We are so grateful to our Ramp Teams who are changing lives, one ramp at a time.  Thank you!

Collaborating to Help a Veteran in Need

We recently helped Mark, a Minnetonka veteran of the Marine Corps, with repairs to his home.  During his time with the Marine’s, Mark received several awards, including the Rifle Sharpshooter Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal (twice), and a Letter of Appreciation.  While serving in the Marines, Mark was a cook and pastry chef and was quite passionate about it. 

Mark has lived in his home for 30 years. Built in the early 1900s, the home has experienced some issues over the years that would create large structural problems should they be ignored. Not only did the basement still have dirt floors, but the last roofing replacement took place approximately 20 years ago. Wear and tear from over the years was causing rainwater to leak into his single-car garage and inside the walls of his home.

We partnered with Capital Construction, GAF-Roofing, and HUD’s Veteran Home Modification and Repair Pilot Program to repair Mark’s roof, replace an unsealed basement window, reinforce the basement walls, and completely seal his basement.  These repairs will ensure Mark’s home is safe and healthy for years to come.

Check out the blog post by Capital Construction here to learn more about this project.

Windom Rebuilding Day Was a Huge Success!

On September 23rd, we hosted 10 volunteers to provide repairs for two homeowners in need in Windom for our 2023 Cottonwood County Rebuilding Day!

We supported Joette’s independence and mobility in her home by installing safety grab bars, rebuilding her front porch handrail and steps, adding carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and installing a new screen door for the 65-year-old. We also helped Ray, who is 78 years old and struggles with back pain, by installing flooring, moving his laundry room to the main floor for easier access, cleaning up his yard, and improving his deck.

We are very grateful to our volunteers and also to our sponsors, including the Southwest Initiative Foundation, Odell Wind Farm, Thrivent and HyVee.

Joette said of our work, “It feels wonderful that there are so many caring people out there that’ll come and help out a person. They’re doing wonderful, I can’t thank them enough.”