Optimists learn bout Homeworks

The Optimist Club of St. Andrews-Irmo has, for several years, supported the efforts of Homeworks, an organization that is statewide in scope. Joe Huggins, Homeworks’ Executive Director, spoke to the Club July 16 to give the members an update.

Homeworks is first and foremost a Christ-centered service. It provides home repairs for qualified applicants through a system that has been refined over its history. The typical applicant is either an elderly couple or individual, on a fixed income. In fact, the client must meet the HUD standard for very low income. The other stipulation is that the applicant must have owned and lived in the home for at least five years and must pledge to live in it for another five years.

Those requirements having been met, the actual repair is free to the homeowner. An assigned Site Manager inspects the home to prioritize the needed repairs and then develops a plan that includes supplies and labor. Through a healthworks partnership with PRISMA,  an audit of the home is done from a health perspective. Those findings fold into the overall site plan.

Huggins added that a large number of clients’ houses have roofing issues that become the first step in the list of repairs. In his words, “dry is half the battle.” Supplies for each home normally cost about $5,000. That funding comes from corporate, individual, and Church sources.

In addition to the Site Manager, the labor for the project involves adult volunteers and young people. Those youths may be doing that type of work for the first time in their lives, so along with the lessons of selfless giving in a Christian atmosphere, they acquire practical skills. Many of those young volunteers become regulars. A major reason for the financial support St. Andrews Optimists have provided is the fact that youth are involved.

After the job is completed, Homeworks conducts a debriefing and review where the effectiveness is noted. This process occurs for every single home repaired. The annual goal for homes repaired is now 200 per year. In 2019, for example, there were 174 homes repaired. 

On the homeworksofamerica.org website, there are sections that describe financial giving and labor volunteering opportunities.

Pictured are Optimist President Alan Taylor, Joe Huggins, and speaker host Larry Blosser, who incidentally serves as a Homeworks Site Manager.