For people living below the poverty line, finding the money to repair a leaky roof or broken furnace can be nearly impossible.
Even worse, many individuals with disabilities lack adequate wheelchair ramps and other necessities, essentially trapping them in their homes and limiting their enjoyment of life. Moved by their struggles, a nonprofit in Tucson, Arizona, is making it their business to help.
According to their website, Community Home Repair of Arizona (CHRPA) is “dedicated to assisting low-income homeowners in Tucson and Pima County. We provide emergency home repairs as well as adaptive and safety modifications for people with disabilities.”
Professional filmmaker Karin Muller is currently working on a video series called “Unsung Heroes: Everyday Americans Quietly Building Community.” In one video, she brings her viewers into CHRPA to see how this group of volunteers is organized and why they do what they do.
It all comes down to their collective desire to use their skills and talents to make a tangible difference in their community.
Every day, teams from CHRPA travel all around the Tucson area to build ramps, repair kitchen and bathroom fixtures, replace coolers, and basically keep the roofs over total strangers’ heads. They work through intense desert heat and cold, sweating in tight spaces and teetering on rooftops — and they do it all for free!
Many who join CHRPA have no carpentry or home repair skills, but they learn quickly thanks to hands-on help from other experienced members.
“Once a year we’ll get two or three new ones in, and most of them have no experience on fixing houses,” said Joe, a former volunteer who now helps run their shop. “Within two or three months, they’re like journeymen, it’s amazing to see the transition. And they’re amazed, too! They’re so proud of what they do.”
Longtime CHRPA workers like Abbie, who is now their lead carpenter, say most people volunteer to fulfill a personal need to give back. Abbie has never been motivated by money, instead finding immense satisfaction in completing a hard day’s work and seeing how the grateful residents respond.
“Money is great for the necessary things, but I’m not interested in making excess of it, as I’d rather focus my time and energy on my community and the people around me,” Abbie said.
“It is really great to know that I have made their day less stressful,” she continued. “That to me is the really deeply rewarding thing. When I hear that [sigh] and they can really relax and let go of their anxieties and their worries.”
It’s not all work and no play. Everyone at CHRPA has formed their own community. They hold a faux-competitive CHRPA Olympic Games each year and often spend time together outside of work hours.
Karin’s video is an eye-opening reminder that many people in the U.S. are struggling just to get by each day. It’s wonderful to see a kind, caring group like CHRPA going above and beyond to make their lives that much easier.
Learn more about CHRPA’s incredible work in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story to make someone smile.
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