First Hand Blog – 6/3/16


Good afternoon! 

The focus of today’s blog is Helping HAND, a branch of HAND. Helping HAND was a program created to help Hamilton County residents with home repair. These repair projects are done to ensure the house and homeowners’ safety and health. Helping HAND is led by Michelle Westermeier who is passionate about helping the people in her community. The program has been able to complete an array of projects from repairing water damage to remodels in order to improve wheelchair accessibility. Helping HAND has done projects for families, individuals, and seniors to make sure they feel comfortable in their homes and are able to remain in them for as long as the homeowners wish. I was lucky enough to speak with one of the homeowners to ask her about the project Helping HAND did for her.  To respect the homeowner’s privacy, we are using the name, Cindy Smith for this blog.


Cindy is a homeowner in Hamilton County. Her and her husband moved into a house expecting only a few problems due to the disclosure statement given. However, once the house was sold to the Smiths and the couple moved in, they were shocked and disappointed to find a large amount of complications. The house was suffering from water damage and the base board heating was costing them a fortune with their electric bill. Cindy had tried to repair some of the damages herself, like putting tar on leaks in the roof, but she was faced with too many issues to take on herself. She felt lucky to have heard about HAND through a relative. Helping HAND came to her house and put in a new roof, gutters, five new windows, insulation, and a furnace. They also removed a tree because of the danger it posed to the house during storms as well as another tree because it was forcing water under the house. I asked Cindy if she was surprised by any of the results and she responded, “There’s not a lot of helping people out there that will do these type of things (projects). So I was extremely surprised and just kind of in awe.” The project gave her a much safer, comfortable, lasting, and affordable house for her and her husband. Cindy went on to remark how relieving the results were, saying, “It took so much stress off of us. It lifted the world off of our shoulders to know that I don’t have to worry, during a storm, about our tree falling on our house or running around with buckets.”


I also asked Cindy why she thought there was a need for such a program like Helping HAND. Many people in Hamilton County don’t see why a program like this exists, believing that a wealthy county doesn’t need assistance. But when I asked Cindy she explained, “There’s a huge need.  “You don’t know what job situation might happen, and you don’t plan to get down. These are hard-working people who are trying so hard, and they don’t want million dollar homes. They don’t expect to eat steak every night. They just want to live a comfortable life. .And this is a wonderful program to help out with those things.” Hamilton County is truly in need of programs like Helping HAND. With the high cost of housing, traveling, and other things, it can become difficult for homeowners to keep up when they hit a rough patch. Helping HAND was created for those times, to help keep residents in the homes they’ve invested in and love. Cindy expressed her desire and need to stay in the home she loves saying, “We want to die here. This is our place. We love it and if HAND hadn’t helped us, I don’t know what would have happened.”


HAND, as a whole, hopes to grow the program as much as possible to help out more homeowners like Cindy. The need is present and Helping HAND is trying to reduce that need. By completing simple repairs like roof patching or building a ramp for residents in wheelchairs, HAND hopes to keep their neighbors in the homes they love. Making it easier, healthier, safer, and more comfortable for people to live in Hamilton County is one of the main goals at HAND, and they hope they continue to provide just that.