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Mend-A-House Project: Helping People Live Independently

By Amy Falkofske

The Mend-A-House Project, in its 35th year of helping residents of Prince William, “was founded on the foundational principles of providing services to people who were at a point in their lives where they were not. just not able to afford to maintain the kind of quality of life they so deserve, ”said Kevin Williams, chairman of the board of PMAH. PMAH is a volunteer effort that helps people who do not have the ability to move comfortably and safely around their homes because they are either elderly and on a fixed income or disabled.

Identify people in need

A person in need of services must go through a registration process, complete an application, and be reviewed by AMLA program managers to determine the person’s eligibility based on a certain set of criteria. Once a person qualifies for the services, PMAH will meet with the owner to discuss and evaluate the project. Then the exciting work of planning the project happens, and an amazing group of volunteers come together to complete it.

Helping people with disabilities

One of the CMPA’s recent projects was to install a ramp at the home of a disabled veteran who cannot move from his front door to his vehicle to get to his various appointments. It took him up to an hour to get out of his house and get into his van. Now, “he can literally open his door and roll up the ramp and down to the pickup truck and jump right in and go,” Williams said.

Another recent project involved helping a bedridden person unable to descend the concrete steps leading to their house. This was especially problematic when he needed to be rushed to hospital and first responders couldn’t get him out of the house. AMLA has partnered with Clarke Construction
and Covenant Presbyterian Church and installed an electric elevator in his home. Now he can roll his wheelchair in the elevator and press the button. The elevator takes him down about 4 feet to ground level where there is a concrete slab with a mini tilt that he can roll up and down to get in and out of his
to house.

A successful year, despite the pandemic

When asked what he thinks AMPH’s successes were, Williams replied that it was their ability to continue despite the pandemic. Even though social distancing did not allow them to enter homes, they were able to carry out projects that could be carried out outdoors.

Williams thanked the APHA staff and volunteers for their tenacity and “willingness to continue to stay vigilant and do whatever it takes to provide service.”

“To be able to get through a pandemic and serve over 100 clients with a fully volunteer team is pretty amazing,” said Williams.

Engage volunteers and young people in our community

AMLA relies heavily on volunteers. Williams said the organization has many seniors in the community with construction experience and do-it-yourselfers who enjoy helping out as it provides them with opportunities when they are unable to give financially. Williams also noted their willingness to engage Prince William area youth, aged 14 and over, who have a community service obligation to graduate. (These projects are all done outside homes with social distancing and temperature controls so that no one is exposed to the virus.)

“It teaches them the responsibility to give back and that the world is not there for them to take, take, take. At some point, they have to learn to give. As they get older and older, they may well find themselves in the same situation. It’s important to learn from an early age how important it is to give back to the areas where you live, ”said Williams.

How to become an APAM volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering for PMAH, call 703-792-7663 or email [email protected] All potential volunteers are selected and must complete a COVID Protocols Acceptance Form. They must also follow the rules of the project manager from the start of the project until the end.

How businesses and organizations can partner with AMLA

AMLA has many public / private partnerships with businesses in the Prince William area including construction, HVAC and plumbing companies, as well as businesses that donate items like appliances and heaters. water.

PMAH is in a long-standing partnership with the Potomac Health Foundation and recently teamed up with the Prince William Association of Realtors. If you are an organization or business interested in working with PMAH, contact CEO John Swirchak. PMAC also welcomes financial donations from businesses, organizations and individuals. “No amount is too small,” said Williams.

Williams said that increasingly, PMAH is rendering service through experienced volunteers and in-kind donations from professional contractors and unions IBEW, AFL-CIO and Baltimore / DC Trades. These professionals can perform carpentry, electrical, HVAC and plumbing jobs “better, faster, safer and more.
cheaper. ”This shifts the paradigm from a core of volunteer DIYers to a group of professional craftsmen, a fact that Williams says helps the organization gain grants and financial support through more efficient management of projects.

Amy Falkofske is a freelance writer and photographer. She holds a master’s degree in cinema-TV with a concentration in screenwriting. She lives in Bristow with her husband, two boys and two Beagle dogs


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