Before there was “Extreme Makeover” on national television, the Kansas City area had HopeBUILDERS Home Repair, a volunteer organization that does everything from changing light bulbs to installing wheelchair ramps to whole-house rehabilitations. The group, co-founded by Greg Wayne, EE’79, started as an outreach ministry of a collection of churches in 2000. Volunteers do most of their work on Saturdays.
“Thousands of volunteer hours have been donated to help hundreds of homeowners stay in their homes longer and live more comfortably,” says Wayne, who now serves as operations director. “Many of the homes we work on have dilapidated porches, steps, windows and doors, and are badly in need of weatherization measures.”
Wayne points to the case of an 80-year-old mother living with a daughter who has a chronic disease. The daughter had fallen in the tub of their bathroom. HopeBUILDERS did a complete bathroom remodel for them. “I am always amazed when we first visit a client, and they’re surprised that we even showed up,” Wayne says. “They seem to be conditioned to being ignored or forgotten. I am moved when clients start crying as we finish a project, overwhelmed with gratitude.”
According to Wayne, the homeowners have often been cited by county code enforcement authorities because they are unable to correct the dilapidated conditions — physically or financially. HopeBUILDERS works with the authorities to address the issues.
Today, the group draws volunteers from area churches, community groups, corporations and professional organizations. They serve the four-county Kansas City metro area. “The well-rounded education I got at Rolla has opened many doors for me, including my present professional function as a project manager of major projects and serving the community in a similar capacity to lead this organization,” says Wayne, who works for Black & Veatch’s energy division.