More than 25 Years after their Founding, Project Mend-A-House Still in Full Swing
By Andrea M. Saccoccia, Contributing Writer
Project Mend-A-House was founded more than 25 years ago in November of 1984, when a Prince William County Area Agency on Aging Meals on Wheels volunteer dropped oﬀ a meal to a senior and noticed the deplorable living conditions of her home. The volunteer recruited her husband’s company to donate the cost of materials, volunteer and complete the much needed repairs on the senior’s home. From there, the organization worked on establishing a non-proﬁt status and it has expanded its mission to improve the living conditions for low-income and disabled residents in Prince William County and Manassas.
Project Mend-A-House enables seniors, disabled and low-income residents to remain safely, comfortably and independently in their own homes through its home repair, home modiﬁcation and lending closet program. The volunteer-based organization allows residents to “age in place” by completing fall prevention and safety-enhancing repairs. The Loan Closet is stocked with durable medical equipment including handrails, grab bars, shower chairs, transfer benches, hand-held showerheads, walkers, wheelchairs, hospital-style beds and portable ramps as well as smoke detectors and safety lights.
The program is considered a last resort for many renters and homeowners; clients are physically and ﬁnancially unable to repair their homes and/or do not have the skills required to build accessibility ramps to alleviate the burdens of homebound family members. Project Mend-A-House assists residents earning less than 50 percent of the area median income, or those that are considered low income according to the Prince William Area Median Income Tables. These services are oﬀered free of charge thanks to a giving pool of volunteers. The organization accepts donations and relies on the generosity of its donors and in-kind partners to purchase materials.
Project Mend-A-House collaborates with governmental agencies including Area Agency on Aging, Neighborhood Services, Social Services, Disability Services Board, etc., and many non-proﬁt partners to meet the needs of the community’s vulnerable neighbors.
During the past year, volunteers completed more than 450 home safety and modiﬁcation projects for 143 low-income households. Eighty-seven percent of Project Mend-A-House’s clients were women, 75 percent of them were disabled and 61 percent of them were seniors. These services have a tremendous impact on the community; they not only beneﬁt Project Mend-A-House’s clients, maintaining their cherished independence and restoring their dignity, but also the local community by preserving the neighborhood housing stock, keeping it aesthetically pleasing and maintaining property values. In addition, in many cases, PMAH volunteers increase the existing aﬀordable and accessible housing inventory by making simple safety improvements—installing grab bars and hand rails or more complex jobs like widening a doorway and constructing a ramp to accommodate a wheelchair.
“We’re neighbors working with neighbors…and when we all work together everyone in the community benefits.”
“We’re neighbors working with neighbors…and when we all work together everyone in the community beneﬁts,” is Project Mend-A- House’s motto. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, ﬂooring specialists, handypersons, and other individuals and many civic, faith-based and business groups with compassionate hearts are needed to volunteer to ease our clients’ burdens, give them a better quality of life, maintain their cherished independence so they many continue to live with dignity. You may volunteer; contribute in-kind donations and/or ﬁnancial support.
Volunteers’ projects range from installing grab bars to replacing doors and windows, diverting water, securing ﬂooring, patching drywall and painting and cleaning up yards, to securing ﬂooring, ﬁxing leaky faucets, to restoring electricity and building ramps. On the ﬁrst Saturday in June, Project Mend-A-House hosts its annual Builders’ Yard Sale. The organization needs your help; if you have new or gently used building materials, including cabinets, trim, doors and windows, plumbing or electrical, call the Project Mend- A-House oﬃce at (703) 792-7663 to donate it.
Recently, the Virginia Commission on Aging presented Project Mend-A-House with a Best Practices Award for its Fall Prevention Program.
“I didn’t think the day would ever come when I could go in and out of my front door freely…it’s wonderful…what a gift and a blessing you have given me: freedom, independence and the ability to do something on my own,” said a client who had a ramp built. The News and Messenger wrote an editorial commending PMAH for going above and beyond for a senior who was assaulted. “The help you oﬀer is a God send program for seniors who are disabled and low income.”
Andrea M. Saccoccia has been the executive director of Project Mend- A–House since March 2005. A graduate of Leadership Prince William, Class of 2009, Second to None, she serves as the chairwoman of the Coalition for Human Services of the Greater Prince William Area and as the Park Authority Appointee on the Prince William County Park Authority Arts Council. For more information about Project Mend-A-House or to oﬀer assistance, please contact Project- Mend–A–House at 7987 Ashton Ave., Suite 231, Manassas, VA 20109, by phone at (703) 792-7663, by fax (703) 792-4094, or by e-mail at [email protected]. Project Mend-A-House can be found on the Web at www.pmahweb.org.
How You Can Support Project Mend–A-House
VOLUNTEER: Project Mend-A-House needs enthusiastic volunteers skilled in carpentry, tiling, painting, plumbing, electrical, rooﬁng, ﬂooring, gardening, photography, writing, snow shoveling, raking and oﬃce work. If you want to be a helper, Project Mend-A House will be happy to have you as a volunteer!
Or, oﬀer ﬁnancial support. Donate to Project Mend-A-House, 7987 Ashton Avenue, Suite 231, Manassas, VA 20109.