County leaders rolled up their sleeves recently and pitched in to help a local senior in need.
County Manager J. Dudley Watts Jr. deployed two teams of Forsyth County Government department heads on Oct. 16 and 19 to aid The Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem in fulfilling its 5,000th home repair request.
“Every year (at) this time of year, we try to do a little bit of a team builder exercise with department staff, so it kind of aligned itself perfectly,” Watts said on Oct. 18. “We had a good time Wednesday – it was a lot of fun.”
The county government teams spent their afternoons painting the home of 93-year-old Naomi Peay. In a matter of days, the workers transformed the more than four decade old dwelling, which Peay shares with her daughter and caretaker, from mustard yellow to a brilliant white, accented with blue shutters and trim.
“It’s been rewarding,” Watts declared. “Making a senior’s life better is terrific.”
For decades, the Shepherd’s Center has supported local homeowners age 60 and older by offering an array of services. The Center’s team of nearly 300 volunteers currently serves 1600 area seniors, providing everything from transportation to the grocery store or the doctor’s office to respite care, visitation and minor home repairs, according to Associate Executive Director Linda Lewis.
Robert Robinson, director of the county’s Management Information Systems Department, praised the project.
“I just think it’s a good team building thing for department heads and I’ve always liked to volunteer and help,” said Robinson, who has served the county for the past 39 years. “…I just want to make sure it’s much better when we leave than when we got here.”
As county employees, Robinson and his colleagues serve the community everyday, so the project was a good fit for them, he said.
“I think it’s great,” declared the Catawba County native. “We do so many things for the community in what we do day to day, so it’s not a stretch.”
Shepherd’s Center volunteers typically handle only small repairs, such as leaky faucets or replacing lightbulbs in hard to reach fixtures, but the agency has begun taking on bigger tasks in recent years because the need is so great, said Robert “Bob” Geyer, a Shepherd’s Center volunteer who oversees the larger repair projects.
“It’s extremely rewarding,” the Buffalo, N.Y. native said of working with The Shepherd’s Center. “All the volunteers say that they get more out of it than what you put in, because you get the opportunity to interact with people and sustain them with items that they really need.”
Geyer, a retired accounting manager for Wilco-Hess, said the volunteers provide an important service to the homeowners, many of whom are on a fixed income and live in aging homes that would go unmaintained if not for the work of The Shepherd’s Center.
“It’s incredible the number of requests we get,” said Geyer, who has worked with the Center for two and a half years. “We get about 40 requests a month for minor home repairs.”
The demand for Shepherd’s Center services is great, Lewis said. In 2012 alone, the organization’s Faith in Action program answered 2370 transportation requests, served 243 individuals through visitation and caregiver respite programs and provided nearly 600 home repairs. The organization responded to its 25,000th transportation request in August.
Director of Elections Rob Coffman had to miss the Oct. 16 workday because he was busy making sure everything was in place for the start of the Early Voting season on Oct. 17, but he said he was happy to be a part of the 5,000th effort on Oct. 18.
“I think it’s exciting to get involved with a Shepherd’s Center project. They do a lot of good things in the community,” he said. “It’s important to help in the community and to get involved with other folks in the county in a non-work setting, outside of the office. I think that’s pretty valuable too.”
Coffman, who in his seventh year with the county, said he hoped the Peay family, who declined to comment on the effort, would see the project as a tangible demonstration of the care and concern that Forsyth County residents have for one another.
“I think our first goal is to make the home look nicer for them – that will give them pride in ownership,” he stated. “Second, we want them to know that there are some folks out there that actually care.”
For more information, call 336-748-0217 or visithttp://shepherdscenter.org.