CLENDENIN, W.Va. -- "I love living up here," said Shirley Teel, as she sat on the porch of her hillside home on the wooded outskirts of Clendenin. "When the leaves come off the trees, you can see the whole town from up here."
But a severely leaking roof and a deteriorating set of stairs leading up to her porch had been making home life a lot less lovable for Teel and the disabled brother she cares for until she applied to Rebuilding Together Charleston for assistance.
On Friday, a crew of 10 volunteers from Charleston area Lowe's stores arrived with a discounted load of building supplies from their company to join other Rebuilding Together volunteers and a roofing crew from Cottrill Construction in helping to put Teel's house back in order.
"I'm surprised at how many people came and amazed at how fast they're getting things done," Teel said.
"There's only a limited budget for me to get things done on my own," she said, making major repairs like a new roof and stairway a long-term dream at best. "But they tell me this will all be done in one day -- that's just unbelievable to me. It's great to see it happening."
In recent years, Rebuilding Together Charleston has renovated about 200 homes annually in Kanawha and Putnam counties. But a sluggish economy and an accompanying reduction in donations to the nonprofit has reduced its income by about 15 percent. June's derecho storm further drained the organization's construction fund by presenting an unanticipated number of emergency roof repairs.
By the end of this year, Rebuilding Together will be hard pressed to complete repairs on 150 homes, said board member Bonnie Barlow.
"We're trying to serve the most needy," she said. "We're working with people with incomes of $1,000 a month or less.
"We don't do any cosmetic work -- no painting or landscaping -- it's all about taking care of structural problems that keep a home from being warm, safe and dry," said Nemo Nearman, the organization's executive director.
Because of its drop in income this year, as winter approaches, Rebuilding Together may have to cut back on the number of heating system repairs and replacements it normally handles, according to Barlow. Since the nonprofit only gets involved with heating systems that no longer work, the consequences could be dire for low-income homeowners who face long waiting lists for federally funded home heating programs.
"We're asking for help with donations or house sponsorships to help our neighbors keep their homes warm, safe and dry this winter," Barlow said.
There's no shortage of low-income homeowners in Putnam and Kanawha counties in need of repairs they cannot afford.
"If we had the money, we could have people out every day working on repairs," said Nearman. "The hardest part of my job is having to tell someone we don't have the finances needed to take care of their problems."