On Christmas Eve 2014, Gene Sabbi lost his home in a devastating fire due to a mishap with his wood burning stove. He received second degree burns to his hands and arms and lost his dog Elsa, a one-year old boxer in the inferno. Gene also lost all of his possessions in the blaze and is temporarily living with his daughter in a local mobile home park.
It’s easy to imagine the feelings of hopelessness that accompany a tragedy such as this. Fortunately, Gene’s situation did not go unnoticed by Good Works, Inc., an organization established in 1988 to improve the living conditions for low-income families in Chester County, PA. The only organization of its kind in central and northern Chester County, Good Works utilizes the work of volunteers to repair homes at no cost to the homeowners. Applicants must own the home, participate in repairs (as possible), have property taxes paid to date and meet income guidelines. Almost 75% of homeowners assisted are elderly, single parents or individuals with disabilities.
While Gene’s situation is more complex than many of the repair jobs Good Works completes alongside homeowners throughout the year, the group has completed clean-up of the site and is initiating construction of a brand new home for Gene on the property. The new, two bedroom, single story design will sit atop the original foundation and provide Gene a safe, secure and energy efficient home.
This story is just one example of the major impact Good Works has on the quality of life for disadvantaged members of their community. As noted by Lewis W. Bluemle, M.D., Senior Vice President of the Connelly Foundation,
“Theirs is a remarkable record of constantly growing success, not just in helping tired homes but also in teaching scores of young volunteers about the satisfaction of doing real jobs to help others.”
Over the next two years, with the support of a Connelly Foundation grant for $40,000, Good Works will be able to continue to transform substandard houses into warmer, safer, and drier homes; and through the process, despair into hope.