Staff photo by Allison Potter
Participants in the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry’s 4th annual Resolution Run take a quick dip in the Atlantic Ocean after finishing their run on Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Replacing the heating system in a home can be one of the most expensive repairs a homeowner can make.
The more than $4,000 bill to replace the heating system in homes of local elderly and disabled low-income families in Southeastern North Carolina is why volunteers with the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry come together to lend a hand, along with making other vital household repairs.
“Those people are usually on our waiting list a while,” said executive director Jeannie Cariker Skane. “We do give them space heaters to give them immediate relief.”
In 2012, WARM served 79 households with repairs including wheelchair ramps, flooring, roofing, plumbing and heating system repairs.
The goal of the organization, which was founded in 1996, is to address all safety concerns in the home of low-income families in Pender, Brunswick and New Hanover counties, such as preventing accidents and in-house fires.
More than 80 percent of WARM homeowners are widows and more than 30 percent are disabled.
Some homeowners with broken heating systems or no heating system will resort to leaving their oven doors open to warm their homes, unknowingly spreading lethal fumes into the air.
Funding for the repairs comes from private and government grants, donations and support from local churches, which often adopt households to help out.
WARM tries not to depend on fundraisers, only holding three to four events each year, Skane said.
On New Year’s Day, the organization held its 4th annual Resolution Run from Access No. 2 to the Crystal Pier and then to the South End Surf Shop to finish.
Last year, more than 200 people participated in the run. This year, the process was more informal with no registration and an optional plunge into the Atlantic Ocean near the finish line.
Ralph Konrady was the race director and his company Konrady and Sons Construction, LLC, was the main sponsor for the event.
In addition to 200 regular volunteers, WARM has several VolunTourists who come from across North Carolina and the United States to volunteer during the summer.
“We’re capitalizing on our location here at the beach,” Skane said. “It’s really a popular mission trip.”
The construction manager is the main point of contact with the homeowners and talks with them about their personal stories and the assessments.
“One of the homes we went into a few years ago, when we walked in we noticed that there was some masking tape on the floor,” Skane said. “We asked the homeowner why she had tape on the carpet.”
She said the mother had taped off the areas that were unsafe for her child to go and where she could possibly fall through the floor.
“That’s the kind of thing we see, and it’s really disturbing,” Skane said. “... Everybody needs a home. Everybody needs a safe and secure home to build a safe foundation for the rest of their lives.”