by Rachel Metzger
Gwen Snead has a collage of photographs hanging on her living room wall. “These are all the babies that I took care of,” she proudly shows me. “Most of them are grown now, but when I turned 80 some of them got together and threw a birthday party for me. They all took turns telling me how much it meant to them that I took care of them. It really touched me,” she explains fondly.
The room that was once her Day-Care still has a few toys but long gone are the days when Gwen took care of babies and toddlers while their parents worked. She has been living in her New Castle, Delaware home since 1969. The modest home is well kept and holds years and years of sweet memories. Gwen lives alone and manages to live on a single monthly Social Security check. He daughter checks on her regularly and takes her to the grocery store. Gwen chose to stop driving years ago after her car was stolen. Nowadays she rarely leaves her house.
A few months ago, a neighborhood friend told her about Good Neighbors. Gwen was taking sponge baths at her bathroom sink because her old tub had developed a hole. She also couldn’t keep her broken front door closed. “Every time there was a strong wind, it blew open. I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I don’t have the money to fix anything.” She stood up from her sofa and invited me to walk down the hallway to her bathroom. “Look how beautiful it is!” she says as she shows me her brand-new bathroom tub. “I love to take baths now; it is the best part of my day. It’s like going to the spa!” Gwen is no longer taking sponge baths and her front door is weatherized and remains shut after Good Neighbors made these repairs to her home for free. “The Good Neighbors’ project managers were so polite. I just can’t say enough about them. They worked so quietly, I hardly noticed they were here.”
It’s homeowners like Gwen that benefit from the generosity of Good Neighbors’ numerous supporters. When you generously donate to Good Neighbors, just something as small as a locked door or a bathtub make a world of difference. The smallest acts of kindness add up to enormous impact.
Above: Gwen's new bathtub
At Good Neighbors, we are thankful that we serve our God in Heaven who is not surprised with the developing events regarding the Covid-19 virus. He is still on the throne directing all affairs to bring honor to Himself.
After thoughtful consideration, we wanted to let you know, our partners, how Good Neighbors is responding to the recent events:
Finally, to our current and future supporters, we are totally funded by the gifts and contributions of individuals, churches, family foundations and businesses. Please consider an investment in hope as, together, we strive to be the hands and feet of Christ, the Lord of all.
Salaried Summer Internship
Good Neighbors Home Repair is a Christian non-profit company in New Castle (DE) and Chester County (PA). Our organization is looking for a rising college junior or senior who feels called to full-time Christian service and wants to “try it” with us for a summer.
A Variety of Experiences – Your responsibilities
This internship includes real work and special training for the individual who hopes to begin a career in Christian work and ministry to financially disadvantaged families and seniors.
As our Summer Intern, you will work in four major areas:
“I have so much to be thankful for,” says Jan Weaver, “God has taken such good care of me.” Jan, who is a resident of Oxford, was the recipient of a new roof this past summer. Several teens who attended Good Neighbors’ Youth Summer Camp spent five days replacing her roof during the month of July. “God arranged for me to meet Tom Hilferty, one of Good Neighbors’ project managers, just at the time when I needed a new roof. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it because I live on a limited income, but God brought Good Neighbors into my life just when I needed it.” Jan has been living alone for over 20 years and a recent fall has made it difficult for her to work.
Anyone who spends time with Jan will instantly notice her spirit of gratitude and grace and her spirit is a reminder to all of us to be deeply grateful for all the many blessings that God bestows upon all of us every day. May the spirit of Thanksgiving bless all of us!
The importance of volunteering can be summed up in a single word: hope. While volunteering is important because it puts a roof over someone’s head or fixes an unstable deck, the true power of volunteering is in the hope it brings into people’s lives.
Volunteering is important because it brings hope into the lives of the homeowners. Homeowners that need volunteer work often lack the physical or financial abilities to do the work themselves. They may feel dejected or abandoned. They may begin to lose faith in themselves, the world, or even God. When these homeowners see dozens of volunteers give up a week of their time to help a stranger, it changes their outlook on life. They realize that there are people out there that care for them and love them. Even more importantly, they remember that God loves them and has a plan for them.
Volunteering brings hope into the lives of the homeowners, but the effect extends much farther than a single person. The volunteers themselves experience the same feeling of hope. When I walked into the church on Sunday and saw all the people that had volunteered their time to spread the love of Jesus, I was blown away. I was even more amazed when I realized that these were the same people I saw in school and at the grocery store. Student and adult leaders alike both experience this feeling of hope. When one of my group leaders dropped me off and two other volunteers at the church for the last time, he graciously thanked us for serving with him that week. But what he said after that is something I will remember for the rest of my life. He told us that seeing dozens of teenagers volunteer a week of their time to help a stranger gave him hope that this world is going to be just fine. This comment showed me that volunteering has a powerful effect on more than just the homeowner.
The effects of volunteer work extends to one other group: the bystanders. Some people walk past the worksite without a second glance. But others take a minute to talk with us, and that is when I can truly see the hope that volunteering spreads. One man walked up to our group during our lunch break. After we told him what we were doing, he told us that it warmed his heart to see so many young people volunteering in his hometown. He thanked us again and prayed for us before he left. To me, this is the best part of volunteering. I love seeing the hope that is brings to the random people that happen to walk or drive past the house.
Volunteering provides physical and financial assistance to those who need it, but it does so much more. Volunteering gives hope to everyone involved with it, whether they are the homeowners, the volunteers, or the people that witness it.
This month we said goodbye to a good friend. Ted Caldwell, one of our beloved homeowners, passed away at the age of 78 . A resident of Landenberg, Ted lived in the same house in which he grew up.
In 2016, our summer Youth Camp did extensive repairs to his home. Some of the repairs included rebuilding his front porch and replacing the entire exterior wall on the back of his house. Ted adored spending time with our teens and was deeply touched by all that was done. The devotion that the youth demonstrated to Ted made a huge impact on him personally. This was evident to all of us when at his funeral, Ted was buried with an American flag to commemorate his service in Vietnam and a framed picture of himself and the youth in front of his home.
Good Neighbors' Youth Camp has expanded greatly over the last 20 years. This summer is our largest camp yet. 80 students will attend over a 2 week period. We want to thank the students, adult volunteers and churches that make this event possible. When our community comes together, we can make a difference in the lives of low income homeowners as well as in the hearts and minds of our youth.
Sheilah Young has been working all her life. For years, as a single mother, she honed her skills as a seamstress doing costume design for theater. The work never provided benefits or sick leave, but Sheilah made do because costume design has always been a labor of love for her. In the midst of working hard, she always found time to volunteer, both for the American Cancer Society and as the Assistant Vice President of the Dunleith Civic Association. As Vice President she manages the Dunleith swimming pool, the only county pool still operating in New Castle County, DE. Residents pay a few dollars to swim during the summer months but when kids who want to swim lack the funds, Sheilah allows them to enter by paying in a more creative way. "I have them read a chapter from a book to me or make them do some math problems," she explains.
"I really could not afford to pay for a new roof. I will always have to work and the key is staying in my home."
Sheilah is a young 67 but she had to retire early from her costume work when her mother became ill and required her constant care. Sheilah's limited income had to cover both her and her mother's expenses. After her mother passed, Sheilah returned to her work part time as a seamstress at Joseph A. Banks but admits that she would rather be making costumes for the theater. "I really miss making pretty things," she remarked. With only part time work and the loss of savings while caring for her mother, Sheilah became concerned when her roof required replacement. "I really could not afford to pay for a new roof. I will always have to work and the key is staying in my home." So when she found out about Good Neighbors while attending a Rose Hill Community Center meeting she made the call immediately.
A few months later, volunteers from Good Neighbors' first corporate work week, Hands of Hope, descended on Sheilah's roof and managed to replace it in just one day! Always a volunteer at heart, Sheilah donned work gloves and jumped right in. She even made sure that everyone was well fed and provided hot soup and snacks to volunteers from WSFS and Capital One. "I was so excited to have them," she said, "This really helped me a lot. I have always volunteered for the blessing and the blessing was returned when I got a new roof!."
A week of sunny spring days were the perfect setting for for happy hearts and willing hands determined to repair low income homes in New Castle County, DE. Good Neighbors hosted its first ever week long corporate work week called Hands of Hope from April 22nd to the 26th.Over 120 volunteers from 14 Delaware companies managed to repair 5 homes in only 4 days! Friday's repairs were cancelled due to thunderstorms but that didn't dampen spirits that arrived that night at The Contemporary on the Riverfront to celebrate a great week. Attendees at the Friday evening event shared memories and participating companies received awards.
Large corporations such as CSC, Chase, WSFS, Long and Foster and Capital One sent dozens of volunteers to work alongside volunteers from smaller Delaware-based companies such as CSOLS Inc, Precision AirConvey, Trellist Marketing and Technology, Fontspring and R. Short Roofing. Additionally, County Executive Matt Meyer and several of his staff joined in on the work sites. Volunteers were privileged to interact with homeowners throughout the week. Several of the homeowners were housebound due to chronic illnesses and disabilities but the outpouring of community support was uplifting and encouraging to these needy homeowners. "I’m 75 and it is kind of hard for me to do some of the things that need to be done on my house. Some of the things that I used to be able to do, I can’t do. My retirement and my social security don’t quite make ends meet,” stated homeowner Mr. Dixon, “Trying to get things fixed on my house has just been a struggle. Good Neighbors along with these volunteers have been a blessing. They came and got on the roof and repaired it. I thank God for their help.”
If you and your company missed out last week, don't worry, a Hands of Hope 2020 is already in the works. Stay tuned!
Good Neighbors is excited because April is just around the corner! Do you want to know why we love it? April is National Volunteer Month and we LOVE our volunteers. Without them, we wouldn't be able to repair over 100 low income homes every year.
Volunteers like Larry Price are what make Good Neighbors' work so significant. Larry grew up in Kentucky and came to Chester County in a job transfer 30 years ago. He spent years working in the pharmaceutical industry as a Director of Quality Assurance. He has a talent for making production plants as efficient as possible. Now, Larry offers that talent to Good Neighbors by helping us to make our repair process as efficient as possible!
When asked why he has donated over 10 years of volunteer service to non profit home repair companies, Larry replied, "I love to see the results. I not only see the results at the end of the day, I can feel them. When you are tired from a long day of repairing houses you can really 'feel' that you made a contribution and that kind of tired makes you feel good!"
Working on a repair site has really impacted Larry throughout the years. "I used to just write checks and then a few years ago a light bulb came on in my head. I thought, 'I'm not completely in the game. I want to see people effected. I want to be hands on!'" Larry now understands what it means to give his time, talent and treasure. "As Christians, we need to give all three of these, not just one or two," explains Larry.
We wish to thank Larry and the hundreds of other faithful volunteers that contribute their time, treasure and talent to our work. We really couldn't do it without you!