Volunteers repair Clendenin woman's home

Kenny Kemp
Shirley Teel smiles from her front porch perch as Rebuilding Together Charleston volunteers Terry Myers and Larry Litton, members of a 10-person volunteer work crew from Charleston area Lowe's stores, build a new stairway leading to a parking area.
Kenny Kemp
James Belcher secures metal roofing to Shirley Teel's Clendenin home as part of a Rebuilding Together Charleston renovation project.
CLENDENIN, W.Va. -- "I love living up here," said Shirley Teel, as she sat on the porch of her hillside home on the wooded outskirts of Clendenin. "When the leaves come off the trees, you can see the whole town from up here."But a severely leaking roof and a deteriorating set of stairs leading up to her porch had been making home life a lot less lovable for Teel and the disabled brother she cares for until she applied to Rebuilding Together Charleston for assistance.On Friday, a crew of 10 volunteers from Charleston area Lowe's stores arrived with a discounted load of building supplies from their company to join other Rebuilding Together volunteers and a roofing crew from Cottrill Construction in helping to put Teel's house back in order."I'm surprised at how many people came and amazed at how fast they're getting things done," Teel said."There's only a limited budget for me to get things done on my own," she said, making major repairs like a new roof and stairway a long-term dream at best. "But they tell me this will all be done in one day -- that's just unbelievable to me. It's great to see it happening."In recent years, Rebuilding Together Charleston has renovated about 200 homes annually in Kanawha and Putnam counties. But a sluggish economy and an accompanying reduction in donations to the nonprofit has reduced its income by about 15 percent. June's derecho storm further drained the organization's construction fund by presenting an unanticipated number of emergency roof repairs.By the end of this year, Rebuilding Together will be hard pressed to complete repairs on 150 homes, said board member Bonnie Barlow."We're trying to serve the most needy," she said. "We're working with people with incomes of $1,000 a month or less. "We don't do any cosmetic work -- no painting or landscaping -- it's all about taking care of structural problems that keep a home from being warm, safe and dry," said Nemo Nearman, the organization's executive director.Because of its drop in income this year, as winter approaches, Rebuilding Together may have to cut back on the number of heating system repairs and replacements it normally handles, according to Barlow. Since the nonprofit only gets involved with heating systems that no longer work, the consequences could be dire for low-income homeowners who face long waiting lists for federally funded home heating programs."We're asking for help with donations or house sponsorships to help our neighbors keep their homes warm, safe and dry this winter," Barlow said.There's no shortage of low-income homeowners in Putnam and Kanawha counties in need of repairs they cannot afford."If we had the money, we could have people out every day working on repairs," said Nearman. "The hardest part of my job is having to tell someone we don't have the finances needed to take care of their problems."
Rebuilding Together board members make joint decisions on which projects they will fund on a case-by-case basis.The organization evolved from the "Christmas in April" program formed by several members of Christ Church United Methodist's congregation 16 years ago.
Most repairs completed by Rebuilding Together Charleston involve projects in the $1,500 to $3,000 range, but can total as much as $4,500 when heating system replacements are needed.Volunteers from Charleston area Lowe's stores work on one Rebuilding Together home renovation project per month, said Jeremy Beasley, a member of the 10-person Lowe's crew on hand at Teel's home on Friday."Nationally, Lowe's has been involved with Rebuilding Together for six years, and has donated a total of $7 million," Beasley said."We work with Rebuilding Together on two to three roofs per month," said Ken Cottrill of Cottrill Construction. "Some of the jobs are fairly minor, but this is the second complete roof job we've done this year."Now I can get to work on getting my ceiling redone," said Teel, as she watched Cottrill's crew secure sheets of metal roofing to her home.The new stairway leading from front porch to parking area will make it much easier for her to get her disabled brother in and out of the house, and will also help prevent accidents, like the ankle sprain she suffered while walking down her old steps two weeks ago.
When not caring for her brother, Teel works as a volunteer at a Capital Resource Agency food pantry in Clendenin."I love doing it. Being able to help anyone is great. You've got to keep that circle of helping each other going. That's what it's all about."Tax-deductible donations to Rebuilding Together Charleston may be sent in care of John Rowan, CPA/treasurer, 200 Westmoreland Office Center, Dunbar, WV 25064. Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.
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