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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on North Carolina Nonprofit Helping Low Income Residents with Home Repairs

North Carolina Nonprofit Helping Low Income Residents with Home Repairs

Mark and Kenda Mullert, owners of Black Mountain Handyman, Inc in Black Mountain NC saw a need for help with home repairs in their community and set out to help. Mark had already been helping people who could not afford desperately needed home repairs and had seen houses with debilitating damages, a problem all too common for low-income and older members of the Swannanoa Valley community.

When he made a facebook post to “Nominate a Neighbor” he realized the need was greater than he thought. “I thought ‘Oh we’ll get 10 people, five people, I don’t know how many,'” Mullert said. “We ended up getting over 60 people who needed help.” He took off work from Thanksgiving to Christmas, taking his crew of five to address the most urgent needs for three weeks. He hated having to pick and choose which projects to tackle, but it opened his eyes to the serious need in the area.

Along with his wife, Kenda, Mullert invited business owners, building contractors and anyone who was interested to meet in 2019 to figure out how to create an organization, that could do the work so many people required while maintaining affordability. They saw momentum with the amount of businesses that were willing to help. In May 2020, Mullert organized another meeting and determined what was necessary to create a nonprofit, a means to raise funds and funnel the money to contractors to get the repair work done. Mullert chose five people with specific skills to function as the board, asking Ben Fortson to act as the leader of Hammer & Heart.

“We need folks who are in our community, who can see the home repair issues and send them our way,” Fortson said. Originally starting in Black Mountain, Fortson said the organization expanded its reach to the entire Swannanoa Valley after conducting research on what areas were most in need of assistance. He said repairs are not limited to a specific area and can include electrical issues, plumbing, roof work, accessibility concerns or anything else that if the problem persists, things will only get worse.

“Or it could be something that’s a hazard to their health,” Fortson said. “Maybe their heat doesn’t work. Maybe they’re elderly and the entrance to their home is rotted so it’s a struggle for them to get in and out of their home.” Fortson said often, these sorts of homeowners need help but don’t know where to ask for it. Through a careful vetting process, Hammer & Heart determines where the need is for applicants and how to best provide assistance. Their mission is to provide urgent home repairs to neighbors of the Swannanoa Valley who are financially unable to maintain their homes in a safe or livable condition. Local businesses and volunteers are vital to their efforts to better their community.

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