Tuesday, May 08, 2007

United Way grants emergency funds for water heater repair

You don’t think about how much you depend on hot water until your water heater isn’t working. Suddenly, washing dishes and bathing, normally a simple task becomes a laborious and stressful event.

Rosemary Huber and staff at North Central Community Action Program, a United Way funded program, knew they were running on borrowed time with the water heater at Capistry Town Homes. The 7-year-old water heater was repaired in November and started acting up again in January.

The staff would continually have to restart the heater when it would stop working to get it functioning again. “We had to baby it through, to keep it up and running,” Huber said.

Capistry Town Homes is an affordable housing complex in Marshfield that’s home to seven adults and eight children. Residents of this one story, handicap-accessible apartment building never knew if their water would be working that day.

Huber said hot water is a necessity, especially for this home. “We have a very tiny baby living there who needs daily baths,” she said.

House of Heating employees even helped get the heater running throughout the day and night when it would stop. “They were awesome about coming out to look at it—trying to find what was wrong,” Huber said.

But the final diagnosis was it would be cheaper to purchase a new heater rather than fix the current one again. That’s when Rosemary called Marshfield Area United Way. “It’s hard to maintain affordable housing and keep maintenance funds at a level to cover an emergency like this,” Huber said.

Huber requested an emergency grant to allow repair that would provide residents dependable hot water again.

The United Way Executive Committee reviewed the information about the heater’s history and price quotes Huber collected for new installation. It voted and granted one-time emergency funds.

“It seems to me that this is an immediate basic need that we should provide support for. Housing is one of the top priorities in emerging needs and this is one of the few sources providing this type of service,” said Marsha Barwick, board president.

Huber expressed her gratitude to everyone who was involved getting the new heater, which was installed shortly after her grant request was approved. “It means a lot to the residents, everyone’s efforts, getting us through to keep hot water,” she said.

“This is a great example of the Impact Process at work. There was an issue affecting our neighbors, we looked at the facts, worked together and the result is hot water for local families and children,” said Kim Baltus, executive director.

It wouldn’t have been possible without all of the people who work and live in the Marshfield area—from the volunteer hours of the Executive Committee, contributions and the dedication House of Heating showed providing a helping hand. Working together, we can accomplish more than any one program or person can do alone.