Outside of the U Care building, sawdust blew in the wind as J.D. Walston cut a piece of wood to get the perfect measurement.
Throughout the week, Walston and other workers made upgrades to the organization’s front porch — a place where hundreds of domestic violence victims find shelter from abuse. As the owner of Walston Home Improvement, he was happy to work in the sweltering heat for free.
“We felt like it was necessary to get it done so no one would get hurt,” J.D. said about making it sturdy and presentable.
Pamela Gonzalez, director of U Care, was grateful for the assistance of Walton Home Improvement to remove and replace rotting wood.
“We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know it was this bad,” she said. “It’s been a blessing.”
The estimated cost of labor and materials was about $6,500. It’s something U Care couldn’t afford with a tight budget, which includes grants.
“That’s an example of how when you’re writing grants, you have no way of predicting the future and what you need,” Gonzalez said. “That’s where our fundraising money would go to, but a lot of time it ends up going to operations.”
During the year, the organization runs a 24/7 emergency shelter and a variety of other services to help victims. Some of it includes court advocacy, support groups, sexual assault and crisis intervention. Since July 2017, more than 549 adults and 1,000 children received help from the organization.
Robin Walston, the wife of J.D. and co-owner of the business, was also involved in the process. After attending a board meeting, Robin felt that the boards were not stable under her feet, among other things.
“The columns out there looked like they were rotting,” she said about the wooden posts.
After contacting her husband, J.D. discovered that joists underneath the porch were deteriorating. With concern for people’s safety, they contacted businesses for assistance. Several people stepped up. The result was fresh wood and aluminum columns, which will last for a long time. Lowe’s Home Improvement provided the majority of the boards and Sampson Building Supply, Inc. helped with other items. An anonymous donor assisted with a major discount as well.
“We’re glad to be able to provide help and make sure it’s safe,” Robin said.
The next step is letting the lumber cure before it’s painted. It will take about 45 days before a layer of paint is applied. A portion of the ceiling was also repaired.
“I think people need this,” J.D. said about to the victims. “If you’ve been blessed like my wife have and I have, it doesn’t hurt to give some.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.