By Jared Hybertson Economic Development Coordinator
It started with a community member seeing a need and asking the question, “How can we help these deserving people?” From there that question spread to the local Rotary Club, and became a conversation amongst a church congregation. “Is there anything we can do to help with their living situation?” The Centerville Development Corporation too wanted to be of assistance and pretty soon a group of willing citizens came together to make a difference in one couple’s lives.
Caroline and Eugene Reiner’s modest home just a block and a half west of the bank in Centerville was in need of some major repairs just less than a year ago. The shingles were shot and the roof was covered with several multi-colored tarps in various locations in an attempt to keep the leaks to a minimum. The old windows on the home were thin and leaked air in and out making it difficult to keep the home a consistent temperature. The siding was deteriorating and falling off in many spots and the paint was faded and chipped. Inside there was water damage on several of the walls due to the holes in the roof and mold was being a concern. Despite all this Caroline and Eugene always kept a positive attitude. “Oh, could be worse I guess”, he would say. Gene isn’t one to come out and ask for help with much and stays pretty independent despite his vision problems and being all but legally blind. “I’d get up on that roof and fix things myself if I could only see a little better,” he would be quick to tell you. For those that know Gene you know that he would. The couple certainly would have taken care of the needed repairs to the home themselves if they were able. Both of them now into their mid to late 70’s with physical limitations and little to no income earning capability it was going to be next to impossible for them to be able to do the needed repairs to their home themselves.
Fortunately, because of their situation the Reiner’s were able to qualify for a self-help housing rehab program for their home through Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership or ICAP as it is more commonly known. ICAP is a community based non-profit organization which serves primarily low-income families and senior citizens in a 14-county area of East Central South Dakota. Thankfully for the Reiner’s ICAP was able to provide the materials needed for weatherization and rehab of their home as well their own general contractor to oversee the rehab.
With the Reiner’s approved for the program, now all that was needed was some volunteers to do the work. Thankfully, the Centerville community was more than willing to lend a helping hand with the Reiner’s much needed remodel project. Several members of local organizations as well as church bodies from in and around Centerville stepped up to the challenge. Even the local football team lent a hand. The project spanned the course of several months but in the end the volunteer workforce helped make the rehab project a huge success. The project wrapped up this fall and thanks to all the volunteer laborers and the team from ICAP the home is now completely remodeled and weatherized on the outside as well as repaired and buttoned up on the inside. Gene and Caroline now have a safe, secure, dry home that they will be able to live out the remainder of their years in. The project was not only a great benefit to just Gene and Caroline but also their neighborhood and the entire community as a whole. In Gene words, “We are good to go now!” The Reiner’s are very grateful for the help they received and want to thank everyone involved.
Projects like this in a small community can be contagious and we are hoping that’s the case here. We would like to continue to see projects like this happen in our community. With that thought in mind, out of that group of volunteers and concerned citizens that originally helped Caroline and Eugene, a task force was formed. The group decided to call themselves “Centerville Cares” and the thought behind it was that for this project and for future projects like it there will be a need for identify funding sources and volunteer labor for those that are less fortunate, elderly, or handicap in our community who may not have the means to do the necessary weatherization or rehabilitation to their homes themselves that is critical to their safety and wellbeing. The group was formed with the idea of helping those in the community that don’t have the means to help themselves. They realized there will always be a need for assistance like this in our community and the more people we can bring together the better. This Centerville Cares group is just getting started. They are small and have limited resources but their mission and goal of helping others in our community is an important one. If you are interested in being a part of the solution and a member of this volunteer group, ask the Centerville Development Corporation how you can help. Any time we can help save or repair existing housing stock in our community while also helping to keep someone safe and comfortable in their home that is a huge win for the entire community and everyone involved.