The Restoring Hope Foundation is on a mission to “construct solutions that address unique challenges of deserving people in Berks County.” Thanks to tremendous community support, the organization has helped six local families into the homes they need and deserve.
Extreme Makeover: Berks County Edition
After Hamburg’s Urban family was featured on the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in 2010, a group of people from the Home Builder’s Association formed the Restoring Hope Foundation as a separate charitable organization to keep the good work going on a smaller, more local level.
The entirely volunteer-run foundation makes necessary renovations to the homes of families in need, and typically provides other upgrades in the form of landscaping, redecorating, or new furnishings. Their aim is to help working or retired middle-class people with a special need. Before a family is accepted, their needs and the needs of the home or property are carefully considered. The cost of each build is covered almost entirely by donations from local businesses, families, and individuals.
A “Hand Up, Not a Hand Out”
Restoring Hope’s 2016 build was the most extensive the foundation has ever accomplished. Correspondingly, so was their contributor list – more than 100 businesses donated money, materials or labor, and 43 individuals and 21 students from the Berks and Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Centers came together to help the Yarosz family of Shillington. In eight days, Christian Yarosz, a single father of eight, had his entire three-story home renovated including a new roof, windows and flooring, a new heating and cooling system, a fully remodeled kitchen and bath, and new landscaping and home furnishings.
Five other families also have Restoring Hope to thank for a hand up in hard times. In 2011 Steve Eisenhower, who was living with MS and could no longer go up the stairs to his bedroom or bathroom, received an addition to his first floor with handicap-accessible amenities and a ramp to the street. MaryJo VanSant was a single mother living without heat until 2012 when her home was renovated including a new roof and heating system. In 2013 Lisa Pieller, a widow and mother of two, was using an enclosed porch as a living room. She had an addition built, and had her fixer-upper transformed into a beautiful home.
The next year Restoring Hope lent a hand to the Welgo family. Lisa Welgo had won her battle with breast cancer but was still living with cerebral palsy and struggled to get in and out of her car in the winter. They received a new four-car carport in addition to home renovations. Finally, in 2015 the Landis family had their sunroom converted into a permanent room and had new flooring, windows and so much more done throughout their home.
Lend a Hand, Take a Hand
The Restoring Hope Foundation is accepting applications for its 2017 build until February 17. If you are interested in lending hand, the foundation is always accepting donations of any kind. “Donations of materials and labor are always appreciated,” said Diane Salks, “and financial help is definitely wonderful too!” The group also accepts breakfast and lunch for their workers during the build. For applications, information, and photos from past builds visit hbarestoringhope.org.
Did You Know?
Right on Schedule The Eisenhower build in 2011 was done over the course of two weeks. Since then the foundation has fit each build into one week.
Building on a Budget Most of the builds have come in around an $85,000 value. The Yarosz family build last year totaled a whopping $125,000, with 95% of the costs paid for by donations.