BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A group of people from a local church have plans underway to start helping with minor repairs to homes of aging Fort Madison residents.
The project got underway as an offshoot of a national Methodist service group called NOMADS who take advantage of their travels across the country to stop and help with construction projects selected. NOMADS stands for Nomads On a Mission, Active in Divine Service, and consists of mostly retired Methodist church members.
Fort Madison’s Jim Posz, of the Fort Madison United Methodist Church, participates in the NOMAD projects and mentioned a project the group conducted in Iowa for a member of the local church.
“This is kind of an outgrowth of NOMADS. We did a NOMADS project in Ottumwa, where the local church screened and put together a list of primarily the elderly who needed help with their homes so they could stay at their home instead of going into an assisted living facility. I was telling someone at a church meeting about that about six months ago and they said we could do that here.”
Now the group has an application process in place and is looking for minor projects that elderly homeowners need help with.
For the past 60 years the church has held a lunch after the rodeo parade until 1 p.m. and funds for that have been used for church projects. This year the church decided to give the funds from the annual lunch to help launch the program.
“We looked at church finances and we decided we could get along without this income to the local church and we could dump everything from the rodeo lunch into the new program. All the profits of that will go into carpenters’ hands.”
Posz said the group is looking specifically for owner-occupied homes of elderly people who may need a storm door put in, or a stair or railing secured, minor plumbing, and those kinds of things.
The group will not be charging for the labor, and if owners could provide the cost of the parts or supplies, the group would look at doing the work for the homeowner. However, the church would consider picking up the tab, as part of a screening process, on certain projects if the owner didn’t have the ability to pay for the needed repair.
Applications for projects to be considered can be picked up at the church or the Newberry Center at 728 Avenue G. Posz said anyone who can’t make it to either of those locations can call the church office before 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 319-372-6426 and the church will mail an application out.
The church will not consider repairs for rental properties.
“People need to recognize that we are volunteers, so we aren’t going to be putting roofs on or anything too large in scope or hazardous to a group of volunteers. We have to limit what we can do,” he said.
“If someone has a toilet running or a faucet they can’t get fixed we can look at that, but redoing the plumbing throughout the house is probably not something we’re going to be able to help with.”
He said the group will do both exterior and interior repairs, however.
“We’ve got some handy people,” Posz said. “You’ll notice I didn’t say handymen. This is people’s work and we’ve got some ladies who can do as much as most guys could.”
Posz said the group would welcome volunteers from outside the church, as well, but all volunteers must be willing to do a background screen
Some of the volunteers will serve on a selection committee that will evaluate each project for validity and cost, while others will be handling the actual work required. Posz said not every application will be accepted, but the group will do their best to get to the ones they deem most necessary and within the framework of the program.
“We can’t guarantee every application,” he said. “But we’ll do our best. The application is fairly straightforward.
“We feel like its a good way to serve the community and make Fort Madison a better place for people,” Posz said.