No Stain is Too Big!

It was late fall of 2017 when Eric Taylor first noticed the small yellow circle forming on the ceiling in his foyer. As a disabled veteran with mobility and memory issues, Eric was not able to inspect the damage. He tried to ignore the growing stain because he had more important things to worry about, like his health. In the months leading up to the discovery, Eric was admitted to the hospital when he developed pneumonia. While receiving treatment, doctors discovered a mass the size of a deck of cards on his lung. His medical team acted quickly to resolve the issue and Eric was back home within one month.

Over the holidays, the stain continued to grow and other signs of damage appeared in other areas of his home. He noticed that the shingles on his roof had started to expand and were falling off. Eric’s friendly neighbors came to the rescue by helping secure a tarp over the damaged roof, slowing down the leak for the winter. “The tarp was a live saver for me over the winter, but I knew I had to do something because the larger the stain got, the harder it was for me to breathe. I knew I had to get help soon because the leaky roof was causing me so much stress.”

The stain inside Eric’s foyer from the leaking roof.

Eric called 2-1-1 shortly after the holidays and was given the number to the Pierce County Minor Home Repairs Program. He contacted the program manager on February 13th, completed verifications of eligibility on February 20th, and County employees were out to assess the property on March 2nd. Eric was approved as a program participant and construction on his home began on May 14th. His roof was completely fixed just three days later.

Eric couldn’t believe it! “Everyone was so nice to me and they worked so hard! I had no problems getting ahold of anybody from the County, everyone I interacted with was very kind and respectful, and the contractors did outstanding work.” Eric was a carpenter by trade decades ago, but he developed arthritis in his hips that prevented him from completing these repairs on his own. “I just appreciate the service. I can’t thank the County enough. It felt like Christmas!”

Eric outside of his home, showcasing his new roof.

The Minor Home Repairs Program is part of the Community Action Division, a segment of Pierce County Human Services that helps residents with home repair, energy assistance, early education, and employment services. In the 2017-2018 program year, Pierce County Minor Home Repair served 106 households with 170 repairs. Most of the repairs are related to leaky roofs and failing water tanks, but they also assist with electrical repairs, heating systems, and home safety additions like bathroom grab bars, deck handrails, and wheelchair ramps. The goal is to improve housing conditions by providing emergency repairs at no cost to qualifying individuals. To qualify, participants must own their home, have an income below 80% Area Median Income (AMI), and reside in Pierce County, but outside the city limits of Tacoma, Lakewood, and Bonney Lake.

Since his roof was fixed, Eric has been on cloud nine. In addition to being able to breathe easier, he now has more to celebrate. Contractors noticed his deck needed improvements when they were inspecting his roof, and he recently learned that he has been approved for this home repair. Construction will start soon and he will be able to enjoy his deck safely before summer is over.

So, what does Eric say his life is like now that the leaky roof is patched and his deck will be repaired? “Every day is like the first day of a love story. I cannot recommend this program enough.”

“I had a wonderful experience and want everyone to know about the help available. It is such a blessing, especially if you don’t have the means or finances to get the work done yourself.” -Eric Taylor, Spanaway

This story should remind us all that no stain is too big to overcome. Nothing is beyond our reach. We can all believe and achieve!

If you or someone you know may benefit from the Minor Home Repairs program, please contact us at 253-798-4400 (option #2). You can also apply online here.

You care for them. We care for you.

When you think of a caregiver, what image do you see? You might imagine someone dressed in scrubs, most likely a woman, helping an elderly patient get dressed, use a walker, or take medications. Perhaps you see them at the end of their work shift, probably still in their scrubs, hopping on the bus to head home or at the grocery store with their families.

But, what if caregiving was not a calling, or paid employment, or a stepping stone to improving the chances of getting into nursing school?

In America, there are some 40 million people who take care of another adult, and 800,000 of them call Washington State home. Most of the time they are family members of an individual suffering from a disability that hinders their ability to complete normal daily living activities, such as bathing and eating.

According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, the typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for an older relative — but nearly a quarter of caregivers today are millennials and are equally likely to be male or female. About one-third of caregivers have a full-time job, and 25 percent work part time. A third provide more than 21 hours of care per week. Family caregivers are, of course, generally unpaid, but the economic value of their care is estimated at $470 billion a year — roughly the annual American spending on Medicaid.

Caregiving is not an easy job – it entails seeing people in their most vulnerable moments – and can take many forms. But, the reality is that most people caring for family members don’t consider themselves caregivers. They are concerned and loving daughters, wives, husbands, partners, sons, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends who handle a wide range of responsibilities from buying groceries and cooking meals, to making doctor appointments and assisting with personal hygiene. In small doses, these jobs are manageable. But having to juggle caregiving demands with the demands of your own life can prove to be a challenge over time.

To support those caring for others, Pierce County offers a Family Caregiver Support Program staffed with knowledgeable and caring people who can help you. The top two services we provide are respite care and PERS, a personal emergency response system. Respite enables caregivers to take a break from their responsibilities and recuperate, which is so important to provide the quality level of care your loved ones deserve and need. PERS offers a degree of safety in the home for individuals who many not always have a caregiver close by. We can also help with shopping or other household chores, providing minor adaptive equipment, and connecting you with lesser known but helpful resources.

In 2017, nearly 400 family caregivers received the support they needed. This year, we are on track to exceed that number, but we know many more Pierce County residents need the resources we provide.

We could use your help to spread the word. Have conversations with the family caregivers in your life and let them know that we are only one phone call away. While there are certain eligibility requirements, these services are offered free or at little cost. Through our partnerships, we have a vast and diverse network of agencies and providers that can ease the stress of family caregiving, for you and your loved ones. You care for them, we care for you.

To learn more about the Family Caregiver Support Program, visit our website or contact our Aging and Disabilities Resource Center at 253-798-4600.

Help those who have helped you!