For several Wadmalaw and Johns Island residents last week, the sight of teenagers wielding nail guns and power saws was a welcome relief. A group of nearly 100 volunteers from Home Works of America had come from around the state for seven days of home repairs for people who needed them most.
Bill Shoemaker, who coordinates volunteer sessions in the Charleston area for the Irmo-based nonprofit organization, says people who need work done on their homes often hear about Home Works through word of mouth.
"The mothers and the grandmothers and the aunts and all, they're all living pretty much in the same condition," Shoemaker says. "So, one after the other, they send in their applications."
Home Works has been repairing houses on Johns Island free of charge for 16 years now, and the organization also does work in Charleston, North Charleston, Columbia, Aiken, and Greenville. To qualify for help, homeowners must be elderly or disadvantaged, live in a location served by Home Works, and have no household residents earning income. Help can come in the form of roof replacement, electrical work, pressure washing, painting, floor repair, and even, in the case of some Johns Island mobile homes last week, replacement of entire walls that have collapsed.
Most volunteers are teenagers, ages 14 and up. Shoemaker says some of the students sign up through church groups; others work to fulfill service-hour requirements at their schools or to add volunteer activities to their college resumés. Adult volunteers can also help supervise. Volunteers do not need to have construction experience, but a little expertise always helps.
Home Works is a non-denominational Christian organization, and every morning of work begins with prayer.
If you would like to volunteer, or if you need help repairing your home, you can visit the Home Works website, dial (803) 781-4536, or call Shoemaker at (843) 860-2951. Donations have slowed down during the recession, so if you want to help with money, you can donate via PayPal on the website or send a check to PO Box 102, Irmo, SC 29063.