“After a day of volunteering with Good Works you are tired, but you feel like you made a difference,” says Cliff Anderson, a Garden Spot Village resident since March 2017.
Cliff has a long history with Good Works, a Chester County-based home repair ministry he volunteered with weekly from 2007 until 2016. He was inspired to volunteer after attending a retirement preparation seminar at work. During the seminar the speaker said, “It’s not just what you are retiring from, it’s what you are retiring to.” That statement stayed with Cliff. Shortly after retiring, he read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Good Works and got involved!
In 2018, Chaplain Chet Yoder and Don Aldrich, a Garden Spot Village resident since August 2016, began to talk about starting a home repair ministry for the New Holland community. They met with Cliff because of his previous involvement with Good Works. Cliff knew the financial, physical and bureaucratic barriers to starting a home repair ministry and recommended that Garden Spot connect with Good Works.
Good Works currently serves low-income homeowners throughout central and northern Chester County. They have warehouses in Coatesville, Phoenixville, St. Peter’s Village and West Chester. Good Works Executive Director Bob Beggs says, “Repairs are provided at no cost to the homeowners and volunteers do most of the work. Our goal is to see the inhabitants of these homes experience a rich measure of hope, joy and dignity through being cared for and knowing that their circumstances matter to their community and to God. We believe that everyone benefits when people from different races, cultures and backgrounds join together in a common purpose.”
Bob continues, “Good Works performs a total home inspection and commits to completing everything needed to make the home warm, safe, dry and healthy. In fact, we often go beyond those minimum requirements and provide repairs that bring dignity to the family and the surrounding community.”
Chet and Don agreed that Good Works felt like a viable option, so they hosted an exploratory meeting at which members of the Garden Spot Village community talked about a possible partnership with the organization.
The meeting was well attended by both men and women with a variety of home repair experience. Many expressed interest in participating in daylong work trips, during which they would repair homes for low-income families in Chester County.
On Saturday, May 11 a group of men and women from Garden Spot repaired a roof, helped clean up and rebuild a sunroom, repaired and painted a mailbox and replaced an outdoor light. They enjoyed beautiful weather and experienced community as they worked side by side during the daylong project.
Another group went in September and worked at replacing windows and flooring in two different homes in a mobile home park. In November, a third group went to the mobile home park and helped two families with floor, wall and ceiling repair and painting.
Good Works also recently initiated a new ministry called Beyond the Workday that allows anyone to participate. Don explains, “Through this ministry, people who may not be able to physically participate in the actual home repair can pick up where the work team leaves off. By making monthly phone calls to a homeowner for whom repairs have been completed, participants can share God’s love for them, pray with them and help them know they are not alone.”
By late November 2019, Garden Spot’s Good Works involvement was at a crossroads. Volunteers appeared to have significant interest in continuing work days in 2020, but Don, Chet and Cliff needed help to move the project forward.
In December 2019, Curt Cole, a Garden Spot Village resident since January 2019, agreed to assist Don in providing leadership for the project through 2020. With that additional support, Don scheduled several work days with Good Works. The first work day was scheduled for March and the second for May.
“The regular commitment of Garden Spot Village residents is unique,” Bob says. “To the best of my knowledge, it is the first volunteer partnership of a retirement community with the Good Works ministry. Maybe that is because the ‘active lifestyle’ and ‘faith-based’ elements of the Garden Spot Village mission are so well-aligned with the mission of Good Works.”
He continues, “I have been impressed with the men and women of Garden Spot Village who have come out on several Saturday workdays and tirelessly served the families to which they were assigned. Their work ethic, years of experience and willingness to be used by God to help ‘the least of these’ is inspiring.”
Don invites new volunteers to join the initiative. “In addition to helping because we can, there are physical needs we can meet,” Don says. “Serving in this way restores people’s homes to be safer, warmer and drier. Also, it brings hope to people who may have lost hope, and in a practical, physical way shows God’s love for them and may lead them to a closer, personal relationship with God.” Plus, he adds, “it’s a great experience and joy to serve with others from Garden Spot Village.”