May 31, 2012 08:07AM
● By Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
The stories on HomeAid’s Web site – stories of men and women, the elderly and children who, for any number of reasons, found themselves homeless – are a testament to individual strength, dignity, and the compassion of our community.
They are stories with many different origins, but they have one common thread: all are testimonials of lives that are better today because of HomeAid’s work. “I’ve seen how the faces of the homeless have changed in the last few years,” says Beth Kang, who became HomeAid Sacramento’s executive director at the end of 2011. “More and more, it’s people who are homeless despite their best efforts, and they want to rebuild their lives. Our work is to make sure they have a safe, comfortable place to do that.”
Not a shelter, counseling or direct service organization, HomeAid Sacramento is one of 21 HomeAid chapters throughout the U.S. that builds and maintains housing and facilities for other non-profit organizations serving the homeless. Its members are volunteers from the building industry and trades who donate time, finances, expertise and materials to organizations in need.
John Orr and Bill Niemi started the local chapter in 1996, along with the North State Building Industry Association. Now, 16 years later, HomeAid Sacramento has contributed more than $7 million in time, services and materials to dozens of projects throughout the region. For example, Volunteers of America has a new Senior Safe House here – the only one west of the Mississippi, thanks to the work of HomeAid volunteers. “Our volunteers and supporters do what they do best – they build, they repair and they restore so the nonprofits serving can focus on giving individuals and families a second chance,” Kang says.
Nonprofits that need building or maintenance help – like the local women’s shelter that had a roof in such a state of disrepair that they were facing closure – can contact HomeAid directly or be referred by anyone in the community. “Unfortunately, a lot of organizations that can use our help just don’t know about us yet,” Kang says. “We’re trying to be a little less of a best-kept secret.”
Ideally, the group could help everyone who asks, but because resources are always finite (and ever more so in this current economy) the group is forced to be selective. Once a project is chosen, however, a small army of licensed contractors, plumbers and electricians descend upon the site to get the work done. But make no mistake – there’s always room for volunteers. “Some people just want to paint or pound nails, and we have plenty of jobs for them,” Kang says. “As one example, we do a special fall event, ‘Painting a Better Tomorrow’ where anyone who can push a paintbrush is welcome to help.”
To help raise funds for the various materials needed for projects, HomeAid also organizes several events throughout the year. The 9th Annual Benefit Trap Shoot, (held in late summer) is always popular, but closer on the calendar is the great Poker and Tequila FUNdraising Event scheduled for June 15.
Visit homeaidsac.org for more information.