Ten years ago, a small group of members from the Waitsfield and Warren UCC churches had a dream. We had experience in the building trades and we knew there were people in The Valley who could use a helping hand around their homes. Deteriorating health, unforeseen tragedies and financial hardship: We knew there were many reasons why folks fell behind on the upkeep of their houses. We wanted to create a team that anyone could reach out to for help without judgment for home repairs.
With the encouragement of our pastors, our small group began making our dream a reality. It wasn’t easy finding folks willing to ask for help at first. We received some referrals, but the folks we approached often believed someone else could use the help more. When word got out that we helped with truly no strings attached, people began to request our services. Over the years, we built numerous handicap ramps and railings. We also completed electrical, plumbing, carpentry, roofing, painting, masonry and general handyman projects. When Tropical Storm Irene tore up The Valley in 2011, our team was ready to help with the cleanup.
While our Community Service Team has logged more than 2,500 hours helping our community’s residents care for their homes, it’s the individual stories that strike a chord in me. One Christmas Day, our team members received a grateful phone call from a former recipient. In addition to wishing us a happy holiday, he thanked us for helping him in his time of need. Our repairs would allow him to spend his remaining years at home. I never received a more humbling call in my life.
If you need some help with minor repairs, weatherization tasks or in downsizing, please consider allowing us to help. Contact me, Vince Gauthier, at 802-496-4646 to learn more about the service.
To support our dream over the past 10 years, we have received amazing assistance from the Rotary Club, the Community Fund, the Interfaith Council and local contractors. We are also working to better organize our volunteers. If you have skills or passion to contribute to our effort, please contact me. As the need arises, we will be sure to reach out for your assistance.
I do hope you join us in recommitting to this uplifting dream. Even just a few hours of this important work will help you feel even more connected to this community. More importantly, it helps us all regardless of means feel at home in The Valley.
Vince Gauthier lives in Waitsfield, Vermont.