Sunday, December 6, 2009

A truly worthy cause: Charity makes repairs to homes of elderly and disadvantaged

By Richard Eckstrom
S.C. Comptroller

Even in the best of times, it’s important to remember those less fortunate. Helping others is our highest calling in life.

I don’t have to tell you that these are not the best of times. We’re facing the greatest recession of a generation, and our state and national unemployment rates continue to climb.

During tough times, those of us who have enough to meet our own needs must dig a little deeper to help those who do not. There are numerous ways we can all do our part, including contributing to organizations that feed hungry people, offer comfort to the sick or homebound, or provide shelter or warmth for those who lack proper housing.

One of my favorite charities is HomeWorks of America, a South Carolina-based non-profit organization which makes repairs to the homes of elderly and financially disadvantaged people. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve this worthwhile cause as a member of the group’s board of directors.

HomeWorks was founded in the 1990s by Hank Chardos, who now serves as the group’s executive director. His daughter had participated in a mission trip to repair to homes of less fortunate families, and was moved by the experience.

In 1996, HomeWorks held its first home-repair session. The organization enlists the help of teen volunteers, who work with adult “mentors” to ensure that the work is done properly. They fix roofs, repair floors, install wheelchair ramps and smoke detectors, and do plumbing and yard work. Local businesses donate much of the supplies. The teens pay a small fee to volunteer -- but the rewards well worth the cost and effort.

The volunteers say a prayer before each work session. Importantly, they also get to know the homeowner they are helping -- a meaningful experience for both the homeowner and the volunteers.

Some of the projects are one-day “blitzes.” During the summer, there are work sessions that last several days. In January, the group will do “Winter Blitzes” in Myrtle Beach, Columbia and the universities of Georgia and Clemson. In April, they’ll repair homes in Greenville, Spartanburg, Kershaw, York, Charleston, Aiken and Horry and Richland counties.

They also make annual mission trips to the impoverished city of Zorritos, Peru, to help feed people there and make repairs to homes.To find out more about HomeWorks, visit, email, or call (803) 781-4536.

This holiday season, the concept of helping those less fortunate takes on an added significance. Those of us with the resources to meet our own needs would do well to take stock of our blessings, and consider sharing those blessings with those who need it most.

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