Monday, October 30, 2017, was not your run-of-the-mill Halloween Eve in Decatur, Alabama. Instead of the moans and howls of ghosts and goblins on Decatur’s residential streets, the air was replaced with the roar of generators and buzzing of lawnmowers. Weatherization Day 2017 in Decatur, Alabama, featured a major undertaking at the home of Partnership Foster Grandparent Billie Dean Stewart and her husband Jerry that featured insulation work, electrical upgrades, landscaping and cosmetic touch-ups.
The Stewarts, who are in their 70s, have been active in the Decatur community for decades. Billie Dean ran her own daycare for more than 35 years and is now a volunteer with the Partnership’s Foster Grandparent program. Billie Dean’s husband Jerry is retired from the City of Decatur and is currently disabled. As often happens with homes of seniors, repairs had become both physically and financially overwhelming. The Stewarts applied for Weatherization assistance years ago. Because of the long waiting list they were not able to have the necessary maintenance done on their home. Thankfully the Stewarts were approved this year to receive the home improvements they so desperately needed to make their home safe, healthy and energy efficient.
The project began a week prior to the actual work day with some pressure washing of the home’s exterior, yard work that involved raking leaves and mowing the lawn, and cleaning out the gutters. The pre-work went rather smoothly until the assessor discovered what could have been a major obstacle to the re-insulation of the Stewart home. The Stewarts’ wiring was determined to be a fire hazard, stopping the workers’ progress dead in its tracks. The Stewarts were forced to stay in a hotel the weekend before the scheduled event while contractors worked non-stop for two days to completely rewire the home.
The virtual roadblocks were no match for the Partnership’s contributing partners, volunteers and staff who turned out in droves to offer whatever skills they had to make Weatherization Day 2017 a success. Shrubs were trimmed, railings painted, porches refinished and planters filled with colorful annuals. All the while contractors worked inside and out adding and replacing insulation throughout the Stewart home. The tireless efforts of everyone involved were given for one simple reason: to serve our community while shining a light on the importance of Weatherization Programs for income-eligible residents.
The culmination of hard work at the Stewart home was celebrated by local officials including Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, the Decatur-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, partner agencies like Spray’s insulation, and employee volunteers from every program in the agency. Weatherization Day 2017 was an example of what community means to so many in the Decatur area. Helping people, changing lives. It’s what we do.