Family Has Heat Thanks to HomeServe Cares Foundation

By: Bill Eller

Anita I. and her family had to be innovative to survive a winter without a working HVAC system in their Dunbar, West Virginia, home.

Anita placed small heaters in bedrooms and the living room, but the electric system in the home couldn’t handle any more, leaving other parts of the home, such as the kitchen unheated during one of the coldest winters in nearly a decade.

“No matter how I moved them around, there was no power to heat the kitchen,” Anita said.

Heating the home that she shares with several of her grandchildren with space heaters was also anxiety-inducing for Anita.

“I was so scared that the house was going to catch on fire,” she said. “I didn’t sleep well at all. I was constantly getting up in the middle of the night to check on them.”

Additionally, because her home got so cold, her water lines froze six times.

“We had no water at all – thank God that it didn’t last for days at a time,” she said. “We kept bottled water for the kids to drink, and we got smart and would plug up the sinks to keep enough water to flush the toilet and tried to be inventive. We would pray for it to warm up, because we didn’t have water anywhere in the house.”

Anita was dreading the prospect of facing another winter without heat, little sleep and freezing pipes.

“My daughter and I have been praying,” she said. “We called in a company, and they said it would cost $6,000 to fix our heater, and there was no way I to come up with that money. I just started thinking: how can I go through another winter like this?”

Then, Anita’s daughter spotted an article online about the HomeServe Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of HomeServe North America. Among other community outreach projects, the Foundation provides free emergency home repairs to qualifying homeowners that address safety and sanitary issues or improve quality of life. Anita and her daughter reached out to the Foundation for help, and Tamara (Tammy) Gross, a HomeServe customer experience specialist, was assigned to assist them.

“Tammy made me feel so wonderful,” Anita said. “I didn’t want to feel like I was begging, and she didn’t make me feel that way.”

Tammy connected Anita with McAtee Plumbing Heating and Cooling, a contractor with whom HomeServe regularly works, and a technician was sent out to evaluate her furnace. They found that the unit was over 30 years old, and it would be unsafe to repair it, so it would have to be replaced.

“The first gentleman who came out to check and see if it was repairable, as he was leaving the house, I told him, ‘Please pray that it goes through,’ and he just gave me the biggest smile and said he sure would. The young men they sent out were very respectful.”

The HomeServe Cares Foundation agreed with the assessment that the furnace needed to be replaced and covered the entire $3,100 cost of parts and labor.

“God has to have his hands over your company, because I am in awe over what you did for me,” Anita said. “You were such a blessing to me and my family. I thank God for you and call you angels because you are angels to me. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but now I’ll be able to sleep at night.”