Church outreach warms hearts, homes

Insulation, shingles and sheet rock were given some intense attention over the weekend at several sites around North Augusta courtesy of volunteers from Grace United Methodist Church.

The congregation, in partnership with the United Way, provided manpower for Project WARM, with the acronym standing for Weatherization and Repair Ministry.

"One of the intents is to make a home more ... livable, and part of that is making it warm in the wintertime," said volunteer Bruce Wilson. He was part of a crew that addressed nine homes from North Augusta to Beech Island and Graniteville.

Helping guide the effort was the Rev. Jim Dennis, Grace's senior pastor. He noted that the United Way receives requests from people who need help with "small ... and sometimes moderate repairs," but does not have manpower to address the jobs.

The United Way, he said, keeps a list of the requests, but some of the appeals have been in the books since 2007. The men's club at Grace has organized a response over the past three years, handling all the labor, "and we also kick in a little money for extra stuff," Dennis said.

The original plan was for work to be done on Friday and Saturday but, due to some surprises, volunteers at some home sites were also at work on Sunday dealing with extra challenges that had come to light.

Focal points, Wilson said, included painting, plumbing, rebuilding floors and repairing leaky roofs. One job can lead to another, such as when interior repairs are followed by outdoor repairs to eliminate leaking and improve the heating and cooling system's effectiveness.

This year's effort addressed nine houses and is part of a statewide outreach associated with United Methodist congregations around the state. The idea began at Wightman United Methodist Church in Prosperity, Dennis said.

The pastor said he wants the congregation to "get outside the walls," in terms of mission work and service. Regarding Project WARM, he said, "All I had to do was throw out the idea and they have run with it. I think we'll do more things like this in the future."