16 May, 2015


A few hours before I wrote this post, I checked my spam folder before emptying it and found this missive from Janis in Butler PA:

I had the pleasure of speaking with Becky today after stumbling onto the Home Repair Resource Center website. My daughter just bought her first home in Bay Village, Ohio and we have been having a very difficult time finding an electrician to help with knob & tube removal. Therefore, I have been investigating all over the internet what options we have for DYI … long story and not relevant to this email. Anyway, Becky was delightful. After speaking with her I found a video interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQu1FMPIAbk) on YouTube from a Cleveland News show that showcased you and some of the women who have participated in the “home how to” events. It was very cool and I just wanted to send you this email to say how much I enjoyed watching. It was wonderful to see how empowered the woman felt … thanks to you and Becky!!! 
I wish all neighborhoods offered that type of resource.

I absolutely love the Kunselman’s laws of home repair!!! Especially Kunselman’s Fourth Law. Proof that it is a danger … some crazy lady from Pennsylvania just googled you and sent you an email ;-)

Dear Janis,
Thank you for your compliments. I wish that all cities had an HRRC, too. I often tell people that HRRC is a rare bird. There are a few nonprofits across the US that do some of the things that HRRC does, but unfortunately there's none that does all the things this organization does. Financial counseling, home repair loans and grants, low cost tool rentals and home repair counseling and education.
I have come to believe that local governments cannot "will" such an organization to exist, that the folks from the neighborhoods themselves have to pull together to bring them about. In Cleveland Heights OH, it was a group from within Forest Hills Presbyterian Church that began the organization in 1971. (See http://www.hrrc-ch.org/about-us/history/)  The founding Executive Director, Diana Woodbridge was (and still is) a tempest unbound, her drive had kept the nonprofit going when many others would fail. She pulled the city into many of the HRRC projects that it benefited both City Hall and HRRC.

So Janis, I hope that you and a group of your friends in Butler will consider starting such an organization. There's a lot of geezers like me out there; almost retired, a headfull of construction secrets, slow moving, but quick with a corny joke, willing to teach folks how to do just about any basic repair in their homes.

A few years ago, the organization lost some of its funding and I was laid off.  During my time there, I was lucky enough to teach literally thousands of folks to do basic home repairs.  As much as I enjoy working in the Old Stone Church, I still miss the fun of watching the people becoming empowered and taking off on their own projects.

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