Many of us daydream about revamping our kitchens, installing a new shower, or finally splurging on surround sound. We’d really love to add on to the master bedroom or—better yet!—put in a pool. But for countless area residents, home-improvement needs are a bit more essential: a wheelchair ramp, for example, roof repairs to keep out the rain, or an air conditioning unit. These are the types of jobs that local nonprofit Operation Home sees—and addresses—every day.
Founded almost 20 years ago, Operation Home’s mission is simple: Help people stay in their homes by making them safer and more accessible. “The folks we work with make an average income of $929 a month,” says executive director Miriam Langley. “We’re helping people whose houses have literally become dangerous. Some are not able to walk on the floor without worrying about it falling in.” Of the residences that the organization assists, nearly 50 percent are home to children, 60 percent to seniors, and more than 70 percent to individuals with disabilities.
Langley says that she was drawn to Operation Home because of its direct impact on the community—one that can be clearly demonstrated in a few simple statistics. In 2015 alone, the nonprofit made 203 home improvements in the tri-county area (that included 37 critical home repairs such as roof and floor restorations, 35 accessibility ramps, 108 AC units, and 23 space heaters).
“The impact you make when you give someone a roof is long-term,” says Langley. “You can see it when you visit people—they have a little more freedom; they’re safer and healthier.”
Operation Home’s many volunteers (there were 1,200-plus last year) get to witness the results, too. The majority of helpers, who often get involved through a work or church group, are tasked with building accessibility ramps. “When volunteers start at the beginning of the day, they start from scratch,” Langley explains. “At the end of the day, the person they helped is able to exit and enter their home. You’re truly changing someone’s life. Volunteers are in awe every time.”
Want to lend a hand yourself? Find details at www.operationhome.org.