A house is considered substandard if it does not provide safe and adequate shelter; endangers the health or safety of a family in its present condition; has one or more critical defects such it does not have operable indoor plumbing; it does not have electricity or has inadequate or unsafe electrical service; it does not have safe or adequate source of heat; it should, but does not, have a kitchen; or it has been declared unfit for the habitation by an agency or unit of government.
There are more than 10,000 families in the Birmingham area living in sub-standard housing.
In 2004, Canterbury United Methodist Church began a home repair ministry to help improve these homes and to restore a sense of hope to the families they serve.
The ministry is called The Carpenter’s Hands.
Most of the homeowners served by this ministry are senior citizens or the disabled. Many of the families in these homes are have a low income and have experienced damage to their homes over a period of years.
The home repairs are done through volunteer labor at no cost to the homeowners. But Carpenter’s Hands does more then repair homes. It also intentionally builds relationships between volunteers and the homeowners.
Beyond repairing a home, volunteers get to know the families they are serving. After the home repairs are complete, Carpenter’s Hands offers a House Blessing celebrated by homeowners and the volunteers who have been a part of the repair effort. The ministry then continues to stay in touch the families it has served through a continuing care program that includes volunteers writing notes, making phone calls and delivering meals to a homeowner.
In the last year The Carpenter’s Hands worked on 100 homes in Jefferson County.
Rev. Sam Williamson is Minister of Affordable Housing at Canterbury UMC and the Director of The Carpenter's Hands. He says, “In this type of volunteer ministry, you can actually see the difference that you make.”
He also invites other United Methodists to live out the North Alabama Conference priority of missions and be a part of this ministry.
Carpenter’s Hands works with “Servant Teams” of volunteers – typically four to six people. Servant Teams may be self-organized from a Sunday school class, Bible study group, office staff, youth group or family.
Servant teams and/or individuals may choose one or more days each week Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. There are also volunteer opportunities two Saturdays a month. Teams may also serve a “split work day,” where there are two teams per workday -- one team working from 8:30 a.m. until noon, and the second team working from noon until 2:30 p.m.
Volunteers serve by painting (inside and outside), roofing (repair or replacing), electrical, plumbing, hospitality, landscaping, vinyl siding and general carpentry.
Volunteers can learn these skills as they serve. Site managers are at each project to teach skills as needed.
For more information about Carpenter’s Hands watch the video below. For more specific information on how your group can volunteer, please contact: Rev. Sam Williamson, Minister and Director of The Carpenter's Hands Affordable Housing at 205-874-1540 or email@example.com .