Jimmy and Ruth
Caretakers spent part of March working with Jimmy (Bubba) and Ruth. We tore down their front porch and installed a new one complete with a ramp for more a more accessible space. As we worked around their dogs and our hosts’ desires to keep our spirits up with sodas, we solar sealed their vinyl roof and also added a little roof over their door in back. Lunch time was a favorite part of the day as we enjoyed the early-spring sunshine and listened to stories about their dogs, their grandkids, and how they found love with each other again later in life after breaking up in seventh grade. Caretaker Pat and Bubba could often be hear shouting out their taglines, “don’t sing it, bring it!” “click it,” and “goodniiiight” which kept the work quick and our hearts light.
We started off the new year demoing and building new porches with homeowner Kathy. We installed a new door which will help her keep some warmth in her house after the old one stopped closing all the way. Suffering from health complications over the past few years, she really values having a safe way to exit and enter her home, and was really appreciative of the work we did. We even got to bring the Goose (our Great Pyrenees farm dog) out on the site one day to socialize her with Kathy’s pups!
4 Farms Projects
During the Four Farms gathering in October, the Projects Team slated a week of quickie projects we could knock out with all the extra energy. This included a couple of days at Pat and Dreema’s, where a slippery wheelchair ramp got a power wash and traction strips. Additionally, Caretaker Patrick and Jerusalem Farmer Adam upgraded a drafty back door. Later, Patrick and Nazareth Farmer Mike built a new, safe set of steps out the back door. We were grateful to take care of those projects before the winter weather sets in.
Another homeowner we visited during the Four Farms Week was Fred , a long-time Farm friend. Caretakers Patrick and Gemma and Project Director Will repaired his falling gutters and replaced some siding that had blown off the house. Another win for weatherization!
After a lot of hard work, Caretakers Joseph, Tori, and Pat (formerly Summer Servant Pat!) finished up the project at Bonnie’s. September included waving at her new great granddaughter who now lives in the house, finishing up the siding, assembling and hanging gutters, and cleaning up the trash from the project. We were so sad to leave this family, who we spent so much time with this summer. Bonnie taught us about hospitality (at a distance), love– even when you hardly know a person, and how we always have something to give to others. Check out some before and after pictures and scroll down to see more of Bonnie’s project.
August at Bonnie’s saw the completion of metal on the roof by Tori and Pat with help from families during family week. They finished the 9ft pieces in the front and hauled 23 ft pieces up ladders and onto the roof, making sure they were square and had the perfect overhang for gutters. Rakes around the edges, capping on the ridge, and snow guard finished the roof itself off. Joseph led family week crews to rewire the back room, and hang dry wall. Summer Servants were a huge help in joint compounding the back room, painting, and adding back the original trim which Bonnie made with her late husband many years ago. Outside, Tori and summer servant crews got started on adding siding between the old roof and new roof–using the leftover metal that resulted from pivoting the project– to better protect the from the elements. Joseph and Tori finished the month off with a marathon day laying linoleum and adding back trim in the back room in preparation for Bonnie’s much-anticipated Great granddaughter.
Work continued at Bonnie’s house in July. Work crews from Our Lady of Grace in Indiana helped Caretakers Joseph and Tori and Summer Servant Pat to haul roof trusses onto the roof for the roof over. They laid out OSB over the trusses and put titanium paper and drip edge on the roof. They built walls up to enclose the gable walls so the roof would be water proof. During adult week, Bonnie said that for the first time in months she did not have to worry about leaks when a rainstorm came. It was a huge milestone to meet over the course of a long project. At the end of the month, Tori and Pat started laying metal on the roof, and Joseph gutted a room at the back of her house.
Jimmy and Betty
Caretakers Gemma and Raine took a long walk over to our neighbors’ property to put a metal roof on. Groups from Baltimore and Indianapolis and Family Week crews took steps to protect the original farmhouse on the Mann’s property by adding a metal roof. This project involved some carpentry to patch a few holes in the decking, and then a layer of waterproofing Titanium paper. Next came the bright red metal that we can see shining from across the way! The roof involved some tricky cuts and valleys, but Caretakers Raine, Gemma, and Eric were able to utilize their skills and share knowledge with volunteers on the site. Not only were we able to preserve a piece of history by roofing the farmhouse, but we also had the opportunity to lend a hand to neighbors who have been an unfailing source of help and advice throughout the years.
Caretakers Joseph and Tori, along with Summer Servant Pat, picked the project at Bonnie’s back up in June. After pulling off the first piece of metal in late May, Project Director Will realized that just putting new metal on the existing trailer roof and additions would be putting a bandaid on a much bigger issue. With 2 additions on her trailer home that had two different slopes, the path that made the most sense was a semi-roof over. We needed to make sure not to put too much weight on the existing structures so we put posts in the front but attached the roof in back through the wall which now sits on a strong foundation. Each day involved pulling tarps off the roof so we could do the work we needed and pulling them back on at the end of the day so they could keep rain out of the house. Even with the tarps, rain continued to find its way in during the rainiest part of the year. With help from the Baltimore boys, we built the shorter addition up so that we had a consistent height in the back of the house and used a transit to put a header board on posts in the front at the same height. Bonnie has been a gracious host from 10 ft away, and we love laughing with her, her daughters, granddaughter, and great granddaughters.
Alderson, West Virginia Flood Relief
Caretakers and Summer Servants worked with Ann to finish up her project in the first week of June. During May they finished the front porch roof, put gutters on the whole house, built the porch in the back and added its roof, put up a fan on her front porch, and finished painting. Ann’s backyard came to life as the trees bloomed and cicadas swarmed to welcome the spring. It was hard to say a socially distant “see you later” to Ann, but we hope to see her for hugs soon. Scroll down to see the work from March-May!
In the midst of the pandemic, caretakers have retained physical distance while working to not distance socially from our local community. They returned to Ann’s house to put the metal roof and trim on, paint the house, and build her front porch and ramp. Ann was dancing on the porch before all the decking boards were even down and told us she has been eating out on her porch and enjoying the view.
Caretakers Raine and Gemma had a demo week with groups in the second week of March. Working with Ann, they took down 2 porches and began taking the shingles off her roof. In the following weeks, a team of Caretakers went out to remove the rest of the shingles, fix rotting pieces of plywood, demolish her chimney, and get the roof under platinum paper.
Over the first two weeks in March, Caretaker Joseph and Summer Servant Patrick McGinnis started a project with Bonnie to fix her foundation. An unsteady foundation has caused the addition on her house to pull away from the rest of the house causing leaking and roof damage. So far, they pulled off underpinning, dug holes and built piers for the new foundation, poured concrete for the base, reframed the space in between piers, and replaced the underpinning. College volunteers enjoyed hearing her hot takes on love from her decades of marriage. Still to come: fixing the damage to the roof!
Caretaker Tori led groups to work with Leota over two college weeks in March. They helped repaint her house, seal her deck, replace some pieces of siding, and split and move a few truck and trailerfuls of wood. Leota told many stories, and we got many looks at the coal trains as they came rumbling down the train track next to her house.
Caretaker Gemma brought crews to grind out a job with Paul one day and Paige the next during the first group week in March. They worked with Paul to reattach the underpinning on his house which had blown off in a storm. With Paige they sealed her roof to stop some leaks. Thanks to great weather and fast workers for helping with these jobs!
Led by Caretakers Gemma Stanton and Joseph Reilly, groups from January jumpstarted repairs at Charlotte’s house, including a porch demo and reconstruction, fixing the back door, and improving guttering. Charlotte was an energetic cheerleader for us, helping out however she could and even providing pizza one day 🙂 Wet and slippery conditions in her yard caused a buildup of mud on the porch as we worked on it, but Joseph power washed the whole deck and steps. Now, the front porch is ready for Charlotte to relax and enjoy her stunning view of the Greenbrier River!
Caretakers Steve Rassa and Tori Llorens led groups at Mike’s house in the first week of January 2020. They put a metal roof up on top of his shingles and were grateful for relatively-warm weather. A few mornings they experienced delays from snow and ice, but they finished the job in just a few weeks and Mike’s house, built by his grandmother in the ’70s, is that much safer.
Caretaker Steve Rassa led groups at Teshla’s house through the whole summer and early fall. Bethlehem Farm executed a first site visit evaluation during the first week of July 2018 and we finally had the chance to work with her starting May 2019.
Roof – replaced rotted portions of roof and trusses, replaced soffits, installed metal roofing
Main bedroom- water damaged from leaking roof, black mold, unusable and unhealthy space. All of the unsafe and unhealthy materials were removed from the home, leaving only a shell of the room. The room was completely renovated, installing new insulation, drywall on walls and ceiling, a new subfloor, a new laminate wood floor, and new overhead fan with lighting.
Daughter’s bedroom: Pulled up damaged flooring and installed new laminate Pergo flooring and molding.
Bathroom: Home has only one bathroom. When Teshla moved in, the shower did not function, there was no sink, and the toilet had fallen through the floor during the project but prior to renovating the bathroom (required having a portable outdoor toilet brought to her home). The hot water heater had fallen through the rotten floor, walls, ceiling, and floor sustained major water damaged due to a leaking roof and failing plumbing. New insulation, ceiling, walls, floor joists, subflooring, ceramic flooring, shower kit, toilet, vanity sink, and an energy efficient water heater were installed. This was the first time Teshla and her family had a functioning bathroom in over two years.
Caretaker Joseph Reilly led groups at Missy’s house from March to September of 2019 in a project that included many different aspects. The short list?
- Replaced 7 windows
- Fixed the ceilings and added insulation in 4 rooms
- Fixed the floor in 5 rooms
- Replaced the porch roof
This project was the first to utilize our new tool trailer, and it made a world of difference to have many tools close by for whatever surprise presented itself.
Caretakers Joseph and Raine and Summer Servants instructed groups to the completion of demolition and construction of a new 8’x12’ deck with 36’ of wheelchair ramp. This allowed Paul to safely make his Dr. appointments after medical complications.
Steve’s first service site as a caretaker was working with Fred Elkins. Fred has a second smaller house on his property that he uses to assist those in need. Steve, assisted by several weeks of volunteers, removed all of the existing windows and installed 8 new replacement windows. Six of the existing windows were damaged and some with missing glass panes. Two “windows” were mere wall openings with pinned up blankets between the freezing temperatures outdoors and the children’s bedrooms. Eight new energy efficient windows, along with new interior and exterior moldings, were installed during the group weeks in March 2019. The home’s heating system is now able to sufficiently keep the interior space, and its occupants, warm.
We were excited to welcome both Greg and Josh to Community Night, as they were able to get out of their houses and come visit us because of their new wheelchair ramps this summer. We began at Greg’s by transplanting five bushes and a small tree away from the wall the ramp now runs along. For a while it looked like the bushes were goners, but they happily survived and are thriving once again. From there we dug holes and began laying lumber. The second wheelchair ramp was at Josh’s house and was a bit larger than Greg’s. However, this proved to be no match for volunteers on Adult Week and Family Week. Wielding numerous post-hole diggers (sometimes two at a time), Adult Week volunteers cleared the way for Family Week volunteers to speed through installation of deck board and railings.
Gloria’s home in Hinton can be seen from much of the town, as it has little additional wind blocks or neighboring buildings sheltering it from the elements. This became an issue as the exterior paint began to chip and peel. Volunteers managed to tough out sweltering June heat and now Gloria’s fresh white coat can be seen from across the river.
Frances lives just down the hill from Gloria. The exterior paint on the trim wood work on her home was facing similar problems and her two back buildings needed a complete new coat. Volunteers and visiting Jerusalem Farmers helped get the majority of the work done in October and November, and caretakers managed to tidy everything away before the first major snowstorm hit.