It didnt look or sound like a hive of bees, but on Oct. 25 a swarm of people were certainly buzzing in every area except the two-bedrooms of the Carrboro home of Evelyn Thompson.
Despite the rain that day, some people busily planted pansies and placed chrysanthemums outside while others painted the living room, kitchen and bathroom inside. The day before, a crew had removed the decrepit cabinetry and everything else in the kitchen except the linoleum (it would be replaced later) before washing and prepping the walls.
The workers were all Realtors set upon improving Thompsons life.
She had lived here since the 1960s, explained real estate agent Christine Khoury. Her late husband built the house. Identifying the need
Few members of the community see our living conditions like real estate agents do. Granted, most of the time when they enter a home it has been scrubbed, straightened and everything else required to look its best.
Real estate agents know, however, that not everyone has the means to bring their home up to its best standards, which was one of the motivations behind Fix-a-Home, a sub-committee within the Community Service arm of the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors.
The idea was first brought for consideration by our executive officer, Sue Millager, said Khoury, chair of the committee.
I heard about the program at a convention two years ago and immediately brought it to the attention of our Community Service committee, Millager said. She learned about the Monadnock Region Board of Realtors in Concord, N.H., that started Fix-A-Home 12 years ago.
They only do one home a year but the program has grown in volunteers and sponsors with involvement from lenders, contractors, plumbers, electricians and so many others.
Our first concern was about how to target a person, Khoury said.
They considered making an announcement and letting people apply for a home fix-up. But the boards attorney recommended checking with Orange County Social Services, and soon Thompson, 84, was selected.
She had some serious repair issues, Khoury said. Her outside light fixture was broken and the driveway was pitted, dangerous terrain.
Before rolling up their sleeves, the agents had to get the support of local merchants.
Craig Lynch, the manager of Stock Building Supply, provided all the electrical components the exterior light, a new ceiling fan and bathroom fixture as well as the kitchen floor. Wayne Herndon Construction, along with his crew and equipment, installed the kitchen cabinets, countertop, sink and faucet, plus graded the Chapel Hill stone provided by Mellott Contractors & Supply. Home Depot provided a $250 credit, which was used to buy the kitchen cabinets and countertops. Bruces Carpets and Flooring donated the crew for installation of the kitchen floor. Real estate agent Brian Decker had the know-how to do the electrical work.
Of course, other donations were needed. Association members donated $2,100 enough to make a real difference at the home on Prince Street and 40 agents contributed time and elbow grease. Getting it done
On the workday, Mike Capps was all over the place.
Im used to doing whatever my wife tells me to do, but today Im doing whatever a bunch of ladies tell me to do, he said amiably.
By days end it was hard to recognize the house. The worn carpet had been removed to reveal beautiful hardwood floors, over which a new rug had been thrown. In the kitchen, a new range was positioned near the new cabinets and countertops, and the window sported curtains that matched a floral arrangement someone had found in a bedroom.
The glistening bathroom had new fixtures and a decorative shower curtain with matching towels hanging on a rack.
When Bill Whitmore brought in a looking-like-new recliner that he placed in the living room across from the almost new couch, Khoury was overcome.
Oh, Im gonna cry, she said, scurrying into the kitchen to vent of her emotions.
Pat Neagle came in for a look at the interior after a day spent in the yard where leaves had been raked and rocks that had been dug up while creating a pansy bed had been used to create a handsome border. Her crew had also trimmed branches away from the house and cleaned the gutters.
Mary Bryan Adair stopped in and, after looking around, said to Khoury, High fives to you all. You had the vision and made all those phone calls.
Thompson stayed with her sister, Annie Parrish, until the work was completed. When Parrish dropped in at days end, she looked on in disbelief, happy for her sister, as was Barbara Kemper, a friend of Thompsons through Friends of the Department of Social Services.
A few weeks later, Kemper said, She liked it a lot. Shes a very quiet person, but she seems to like it all. She likes her new chair. Shes happy. Someday were going to tackle that bedroom.Giving back
The Realtors Association has a history of giving back to the community. Most recently has been a NASA Learning Lab trailer brought to University Mall for five days in 2001 where teachers were able to bring their classes to learn more about endeavors into outer space.
Each summer, funding is provided to send children to summer camps, and displaced folks are assisted through its Community Area Relief Effort.
This first Fix-A-Home project brought agents together who had never worked with each other.
It expanded friendships, Khoury said. People signed up who had never done anything with the board before.
The next project begins in March and the hope is to complete three next year one each in Orange County, Chapel Hill and Chatham County.
The next projects will be easier the systems are in place, Khoury said.Contact Valarie Schwartz at 923-3746 or email@example.com.
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