How Weatherization Day Made a Difference for One Foster Grandparent

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.

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Tips to Keep You On Budget This Season

This holiday season, be sure to give yourself a gift—by sticking to your budget. Your wallet and credit score will thank you later in the year.

Tips to keep you on budget this holiday season

This holiday season, be sure to give yourself a gift—by sticking to your budget. Your wallet and credit score will thank you later in the year. According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, consumers are planning to spend about $970 this holiday season, and the bulk of that will be on gifts for friends and family. The majority of those surveyed plan to do most of their shopping online. Whether you click to make your purchases or prefer face-to-face interaction, here are four tips to help you stick to your holiday shopping budget:

  1. Set a budget and honor it. Don’t let a phobia of commitment keep you from making and sticking to a budget. Make an advance list of all of the gifts, decorations, travel and food expenses necessary this season, along with spending limits. Then stick to them; avoid those last-minute temptations.
  2. Make a gift list and be ready to delete. Write down the names and gifts for everyone you plan to buy presents for this holiday season. Be prepared to delete names, or downsize gifts, if you exceed your budget.
  3. Don’t forget shipping costs. Be sure to calculate shipping costs for all of your purchases. Look for coupons and consider using the “purchase online—pick up in store” option some retailers offer, to save on shipping costs. Better yet: The NRF consumer survey shows that 94 percent of shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping when making online purchases. Just be aware of any deadlines so you save money and they arrive on time!
  4. Price check with your phone. Put your smartphone to work and comparison shop ahead of time. The NRF survey finds that more than 60 percent of consumers plan to use their phones to research purchases before they buy.

Just in case you’re stuck on exactly what to buy for those on your list, the survey shows that six out of 10 people are hoping for gift cards and 55 percent would like to receive clothing. Whether you choose “plastic cash” or a sweater for a gift, keep in mind that working with a financial coach at a NeighborWorks organization like Community Action Partnership of North Alabama can help you stick to your budget, as well as set and reach your overall financial goals.

(Featured image via Creative Commons)

Ramping Up Vet Services

Many would say that someone who has lived 94 years has already seen more than most.  The one thing that 94-year-old Navy veteran Floyd Cox had not seen was an easier way to enter and exit his home. 

Many would say that someone who has lived 94 years has already seen more than most.  The one thing that 94-year-old Navy veteran Floyd Cox had not seen was an easier way to enter and exit his Cullman home.  Thanks to designated funding from NeighborWorks, Mr. Cox’s home has been upgraded with an accessibility ramp to help him avoid having to use the steps in front of his home.  Many would say that someone who has lived 94 years has already seen more than most.  The one thing that 94-year-old Navy veteran Floyd Cox had not seen was an easier way to enter and exit his Cullman home.  Thanks to designated funding from NeighborWorks, Mr. Cox’s home has been upgraded with an accessibility ramp to help him avoid having to use the steps in front of his home.   Following a referral by Saving Forgotten Warriors, the ramp was installed this fall at the Cox home with the help of locally contracted builders.

Homeownership Specialist Candy Ayers facilitated the ramp funding to expand the Partnership’s footprint to reach local veterans in need. Mr. Cox’s stepdaughter Mary Lamar served as the primary contact with Candy and played a major role in organizing the building of the ramp. The Partnership was able to provide the funding for all of the materials for Mr. Cox’s new ramp. During a visit with Partnership CEO Michael Tubbs, Mr. Cox shared his naval experiences during World War II. His unit was stationed at Okinawa and was unaware for several days of the events that took place in Japan to end the war. Once he returned to Cullman, Mr. Cox got a job a local furniture store. He was later forced to quit because he was not allowed to be off on Saturdays to play sports for his alma mater Fairview High School. According to Mary, Mr. Cox was a master electrician by trade. “There was nothing he couldn’t do,” she said. With his new ramp installed at his home, easily getting into and out of his house will no longer be something he cannot do. IMG_3775