Helping Hands, a non-profit Bryan County organization, lent a hand April 21 to assist an elderly Richmond Hill couple in fixing up their home.
The organization, made up of local volunteers and affiliated with the United Way, is no stranger to this type of work. They have helped others in Bryan County and plan to do much of the same in the near future as they gear up for a big week-long summer project.
"Our mission with Helping Hands is to give a better quality of life to the elderly, handicapped or those of misfortunate through home and yard maintenance and repair," said Pastor Steve Lane, senior member of the group.
When friends and neighbors of Willie and Frances Morgan informed the local United Way chapter that the elderly couple needed some help with home projects, Helping Hands heeded the call.
Lane and his fellow workers, which includes an ever-changing group of volunteers, spent the better part of Saturday painting the exterior of the Morgan home. They also did some major yard work, including hauling off four truckloads of limbs, bushes, and other debris.
For this project, Helping Hands included groups from five different local churches: Richmond Hill United Methodist, Sycamore on the Hill, Richmond Hill Presbyterian, St. Anne’s and New Beginnings. Around thirty volunteers in all, ages 8-55, showed up for the local cause.
Pastor Dale Simmons brought 11 members with him from Sycamore on the Hill Southern Baptist Church, which the Morgans belong to.
"We had a great time," said Simmons. "The camaraderie between the different churches was a lot of fun, and it was great to help some of our own members. It was definitely a win-win situation."
"It was amazing," said Presbyterian Church member Dana Kind. "Everybody worked real hard. It was inspiring to see everybody come together like that."
Kind, a Richmond Hill home builder turned chiropractor, is a regular volunteer to Helping Hands. He said he was in the midst of searching for a charitable cause to apply his building skills to and was leaning toward "Habitat for Humanity" in Savannah. When Lane approached him about helping people in own backyard, Kind jumped at the opportunity.
Helping Hands has helped over a dozen families in Bryan County since its inception in 2003.
Helping Hands looks to the Bryan County United Way to screen potential applicants in need of home repairs or renovations and are unable to physically or financially do them on their own.
The group then assesses the scope of the project before soliciting donations for supplies. Kind, for example, uses his knowledge of construction to estimate the density of work and the projected supplies needed in a case that requires structural work.
Lane said that the group is always on the look-out for volunteers, and is especially looking for those with professional skills such as plumbing, electric, and heating and air.
"The heart and soul of Helping Hands is our volunteers," Lane said. "We’ve been fortunate enough to draw numerous local church groups who have rallied together to help us during most of our projects."
One of the volunteer units of Helping Hands, the Hill United Methodist youth group, did mission work in Mississippi last year.
"The work we do here in Bryan County is as much a necessity as the work we do in our mission trips to Mississippi and other parts of the world," said United Methodist member Tommy Wyatt.
The group is gearing up for a week-long summer venture, wherein they plan to work on homes throughout Bryan County from July 8-13.
The group is looking for projects to fill their schedule for that week. If you or someone you know is in need of some home maintenance or repairs, fill out an application form at the United Way. The applicant must own the home and a genuine need must be established.
If you cannot get to the United Way office due to physical disabilities or lack of transportation, an application form can be sent to you. Call the United Way at 756-5333 for further details on the process.
To volunteer your services or supplies to Helping Hands of Bryan County, call Lane at 308-7635. If you would like to make a financial contribution to the cause, contact Nevin Patton at the Richmond Hill branch of First Bank.