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!
When an elderly, low income homeowner in Oxford contacted Good Neighbors Home Repair to address his kitchen floor, our project managers discovered that they were in for quite a surprise! Upon their arrival, they realized that the collapsing kitchen floor was hiding more than termite and water damage. The floors and broken cabinets had become a second home to a few rats and snakes! With courage and ingenuity, our project managers Phil and Tom were not only able to replace the floors and cabinets, they also ensured that the pesky visitors never returned! Our needy neighbors are sometimes faced with the worst imaginable living conditions. Thanks to supporters like you, our work is improving the lives of people right here in our community by restoring their hope and dignity!
A Newark homeowner contacted us seeking help with some home repairs. She and her husband had run a prosperous business, but he died, and she had to assume all of the duties of the business herself. Her situation was complicated further when she was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Whatever financial resources she had left were wiped out by medical expenses. And you can probably guess what happened next: unable to work, she had to shutter the business.
Here is a woman who worked hard to hang on after the devastating loss of her husband. She worked hard, but in the providence of God, her situation was harder. It was our joy to be able to repair her furnace and chimney, and it was her joy, too—she wept at the completion of the work, overwhelmed with gratitude. May God grant her mercy in her circumstances, and lasting hope in Christ Jesus.
Last week, we shared some photos to social media from a project in Wilmington. The homeowners are a couple who have lived at their address for over thirty years, and are recently facing health challenges. The husband had a heart attack some years ago, and still faces ongoing issues with pain in his arms and hands. His wife was diagnosed with cancer shortly after we began work on their home.
After New Castle County building inspectors sent violation notices for several issues, the couple reached out to Good Neighbors to help address them. They met our criteria, and we set about working on the home. So far, we've worked on rebuilding their back porch, fixing damaged plaster, and putting up new siding.
Please join us in praying for this couple. Pray for healing for her cancer, and pain management for the lingering effects of his heart attack. Pray that the Lord would provide for their financial and physical needs. Above all, pray that our work—done in Jesus name—would point their eyes to Jesus, the only true and lasting provision for the healthy and the hurting, the prosperous and the poor.
Love, Inc is a mercy ministry in New Castle County. This past summer, a local homeowner reached out to Love, Inc because her roof was in terrible shape, and the leaks were making their way into her kitchen, utility room, and bathrooms. Mold was starting to form, and with herself and two daughters to care for, she had no way to pay for the repairs on her own. But without any attention, the roof would likely have caved in and put this family in a far more dire situation. Love, Inc evaluated her case and referred her to us. After an interview, we determined that the homeowner qualified for repairs and we set about doing them.
Over the course of several months, Good Neighbors staff and volunteers—including a group from our Youth Camp—set about converting this family's house from a source of anxiety into a warmer, drier, safer, healthier home. In addition to the roofing work, we painted, replaced gutters, replaced a window, and replaced the damaged drywall on the interior ceilings.
We received a letter from the homeowner, thanking us for the kind disposition of our volunteers, and praising God for his provision. This warms our hearts, and we hope it warms yours, too. We repair homes as an expression of our love for Jesus, that we might restore lasting hope to the people we serve. Thanks be to God that this dear woman knows the source of her help and hope.
It is with joy and humility that I announce a Longwood Foundation grant of $80,000 to Good Neighbors Home Repair in support of our initiative to Restore Hope by Repairing Homes in northern New Castle County. The Longwood Foundation grant is designated to fund the repair of 20+ homes in 2018 and the infrastructure to continue increasing our impact and build long-term sustainability.
For over 25 years Good Neighbors has built strong relations with 20 area foundations who provide almost 50% of our annual budget. The Longwood Foundation, however, is known as having the most rigorous process of evaluation and examination. Through the six-month process we were called to examine every facet of our work:
This is a one-time grant to begin our 5 year goal in NCC: to match the 100+ homes we do each year in Southern Chester County. The foundation was clear that we should continue to build a sustainable program. With this increase in repair funds, we will need even more volunteers and supporters in order to double our impact.
Today I received a note from a single mother of 7:
"Before you came to my house to address my plumbing issues I had completely exhausted all the money I had trying to remedy the problem myself. I could barely meet my utility bills when the leak got worse and, consequently, caused a mold problem which severely affected my children's health. I am certain that God sent you in the nick of time to help us."
As we thank the Lord, the Foundation and our faithful friends, there are still many low-income families in desperate need of warmer, safer, drier and healthier homes. With your continued support and the Longwood Foundation funds, many more of these families will receive help from Good Neighbors.
Harold Naylor, Jr.
We have a guest author on the blog this week, Rev. Tom Harr from Faith Presbyterian in Wilmington. Thanks, Tom!
The issue being debated in Mark 7 is what makes someone unclean in God’s eyes; what makes someone unacceptable to God. The Pharisees are blaming external things – you are unacceptable because of what you touch, where you go, what you eat. But Jesus says the problem is much more personal and what he says is startling. He says the problem is not outside us. It is us.
Now you may feel offended. “How dare you!” you say. Because this isn’t how people usually talk about wrongdoing. We are used to hearing people in public life calling the wrong things they have done a “mistake”—something that came upon them. But Jesus says that is nonsense. Sin is not something that we come across “out there” in which we are unintentionally caught. It is something that flows out of our heart. It comes out of us and we have to own up and take responsibility for it.
However, as you participate in and support the work of Good Neighbors, beware of a very dangerous tendency. This is what I mean: Without thinking, it’s often very easy to assume that there is a direct line to be drawn from a someone’s personal sin and their needy circumstances. In other words, we assume (even without thinking) that the person we are helping wouldn’t need our help if only that had made wiser decisions (for example, like us).
But while a person’s unwise (even sinful) decisions can certainly lead to circumstances of need, that’s not the point Jesus is making. Jesus’ debate here is with the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Mark 7:1) who often used the sin of “those people” to justify avoiding them, lest they be polluted themselves. But Jesus is saying to them that’s not how you get polluted. Sin affects us from the inside—including, as he lists in v.22, the sin of pride.
So when we encounter those in need, even when their suffering stems in part from their sin, a Good Neighbor moves toward them for two reasons. First, we move toward them because there is nothing infectious about need. Our own sin comes from inside of us and we have plenty of it. And second, we move toward them in their need because Jesus moved toward us in ours. In his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus died the death of a criminal—an unclean outcast. And ironically it wasn’t what was on the inside that corrupted him. For him, it did come from the outside. It came from us. Praise God today for making us clean in Christ.
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. (ESV)
It’s easy to read accounts like this one and be hard on the apostles. They essentially interrupt Jesus’s ministry and tell him to get rid of the people he’s teaching. Then they try to make it about the welfare of the people--it’s late, they need to eat, tell them to go so they can take care of themselves. But it backfires on them! What does Jesus say? “You give them something to eat.”
Of course, it doesn’t end there, but the full story doesn’t begin here in verse 34, either, even though we get a hint. Back in verses 7-13, Jesus sends out the twelve, charging them to do mighty works in his name and preach the gospel. In our passage today, this is what they have returned from doing. As verses 12 and 13 tell us, they spent their time proclaiming “that people should repent,” and “cast[ing] out demons and annoint[ing] with oil many who were sick and heal[ing] them.” In short, they’ve been doing the work of ministry that Jesus called them to and they’re tired. And we know that they’re tired, because the first thing Jesus instructs them to do when they return is to withdraw and rest (31).
Maybe it isn’t so easy to come down hard on the apostles at this point, because it’s getting easier to see ourselves reflected back from the story. We are often worn out from the work of ministry. Whether we are serving our churches in some capacity, or fixing homes, or any combination of different things in different spheres, serving the Lord can be physically and spiritually draining. When we’ve finished with a work, we may feel entitled to pass on the next thing that the Lord puts before us—as though he is ignorant of our situation, and as though it is for us to assess whether it is in our capacity to answer his call.
But our Lord is not ignorant! The same Jesus who calls them to feed these five thousand people called them to withdraw and rest at the beginning of the passage. But the same Jesus who called them to withdraw and rest also has compassion on this great crowd with no shepherd. Jesus knows that the need is great, and though he knows his servants are physically and spiritually spent, he calls them out of their rest to minister to these people. But here’s the thing you shouldn’t miss: the Jesus who calls them out of their rest empowers them to do the work he has for them. Just as he, in verse 7, gave the apostles authority over unclean spirits so that they could cast them out, Jesus now provides the means to pull off this miraculous feeding of five thousand men.
The Lord graciously gives his people rest. He made us, he knows us, and he understands that we, as finite creatures, need time to withdraw and restore our strength. But the Lord also calls us, in his time, to minister to a lost world. Often, that call interrupts our plans for a much-needed rest. Often, that call comes right after we’ve finished serving him in other ways. But brothers and sisters, in these moments, be encouraged: the same Lord who calls us out of our weakness to serve him gives us the strength and power we need to answer his call.
This past July, students from our area converged on Avondale Presbyterian Church for our annual Youth Camp. With their help, we were able to work on five homes, including the camp’s first projects in Delaware.
A group made up of students from Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Newark and Hockessin United Methodist Church spent the week at this New Castle home. The owner lives on her own and works, but her wages were insufficient to cover the cost of some necessary repairs.
Thanks to the work of the students, we were able to replace her roof in just a few days, and then move on to some other projects. The EP team had experience with windows, so they were able to do a few of those. We also put in some new drywall in a portion of the indoor ceiling, installed a new handle on a storm door, and even found time to put another new roof on—this time on the shed in the back yard.
What a blessing it was to be able to help this homeowner. Please pray that the Lord would provide for her needs, and that the students who worked on her home would give glory to God for what he used them to do.