What happens when a caring, concerned group of people see a need and decide to meet that need? Change. In 2002, a local church community realized they had people all around them who couldn’t physically do or afford what many of us take for granted – home repairs. And not extravagant repairs. Basic repairs – like replacing a broken board. Or installing a grab bar. Or repairing rotted flooring. So a team formed with the goal of helping those who couldn’t repair, maintain or make changes to their home – things necessary to meet their daily living needs

As the church’s outreach grew, a larger vision developed. By 2006, Home Repairs Ministries was officially formed as a 501(c)3 and began to work alongside local churches, nonprofits and support agencies throughout six metro Atlanta communities. Today, Home Repairs completes over 200 projects per year to create safe, dry and accessible home environments for those who may not otherwise be able to on their own.

At the helm of this nonprofit since March 2024 is Executive Director Heather Loveridge.

“I have a long history in Gwinnett and actually started my career at Gwinnett Magazine,” Heather Loveridge said. “Over the years I’ve been a solopreneur turned agency owner as I started a marketing agency, Magnolia Media Group, focused on helping nonprofits. I ran that for almost 10 years and loved being immersed in the nonprofit world and wanted to dive deeper and focus on one nonprofit.”

Fast forward to today…

Two of Loveridge’s former employees now own Magnolia Media Group and she has found a new calling as executive director of Home Repairs Ministries.

“Whether it’s adding grab bars to a bathroom, repairing unsafe flooring, replacing a rotting deck, widening doorways to make them wheelchair accessible, or any of the critical repairs we do, they all make a difference in the lives of homeowners,” she said. “They don’t have to choose between paying the mortgage, buying medicine or food, paying the electric bill or paying for a critical home repair.”

Working alongside her is HRM’s project manager Clarence Atsma, who oversees the 40+ volunteers who make repairs possible.

“It’s because of our skilled volunteers that we are able to do a lot with a little. Take a deck for example – it’s not just something nice to have, it’s also a safe second egress from a home. And the homeowners we serve can’t afford to pay $5,000 for a new deck. But because of our volunteers, we’re able to save on labor costs and just pay for materials. So we can provide $5k worth of value for only $800 or so in material costs, for example,” Loveridge said.

For Atsma, who previously worked at Habitat for Humanity (along with his wife Evan) as a house leader, this is more than a job. “There’s a lot of heartbreak going on with the people we serve,” he said. “It’s not easy, and it’s not glorious. “I don’t ever feel like I’m ‘giving back’; it feels like I’m helping to stop a cycle.

“A lot of the homeowners we serve are older, and they don’t have the opportunity to do any of the work that we get to bless them with. Whether there’s mold on the floor, water damage or a wall falling in – we get to prevent something horrible from happening. I want to stop this kind of thing from happening in the first place.

“And a lot of our homeowners are just overwhelmingly grateful, gracious and very generous. They want so desperately to be a part of what we’re doing – whether by cutting up some fruit to give us for lunch or a water bottle or something.”

Grateful homeowners like Annie…

“My husband and I were married over 21 years,” Annie said. “On August 23, 2022, he had major heart surgery and didn’t make it; he passed away in the emergency room. It was very painful. “When he passed away, my life totally changed. I didn’t know what I needed to do.”

Not long after the loss, her 1969 home began to show its age, creating problems Annie simply had no idea how to fix. “I work at Wal-Mart, but because I don’t get enough hours and am a little bit disabled, my [college-age] son covers me [working to pay the mortgage each month]. Every month, he supports me, but I feel very guilty.”

While struggling to get by day-to-day, her garage needed fixing and the back deck needed serious repairs in order to be safe again. While Gwinnett County wasn’t able to help, they referred her to Home Repairs Ministries. That’s when things began to turn around for the better.

“I called, and they contacted me back very quickly. I was sent the application, filled it out and heard back that I qualified! Then Clarence [Home Repairs’ Project Manager] came to my house and did the inspection. “When they came here, they helped me by bringing the love of God to me. “I felt very cold last year after my husband passed away. But now I’m safe with Mr. Clarence and Mrs. Heather and the many volunteers who came to help fix everything with the deck.

“They are very experienced, very kind, and they didn’t ask me to pay for the repairs. I cannot say enough; it’s helped me a lot. I thank you from my heart.” Home Repairs will be coming back soon to help Annie with her garage repair. Until then, she’s been inspired to create new goals for herself. “When I get to be strong and have everything put together, like Home Repairs helped me, I will help the next person who needs it. I want to pay back how you guys loved me – I will love other people too. You guys gave me power to become strong.”

Since starting in July 2023…

Atsma has been deeply impacted by many homeowners like Annie.
“One woman had a fallen powerline and trees in her yard. The previous owner had pocketed the money insurance provided to remove the trees, and she couldn’t afford to have them removed,” he said. “When we came to help, her home didn’t have power and her dependent sons have varying levels of autism – but everything she says out of her mouth is, ‘Thank you’ and ‘God is so good’. What a heart – to be still so passionate and full of life!

Both Loveridge and Atsma have a vision to do even more – for both Home Repairs helpers and helpees.

“We have such a wellspring of knowledge available through our retired volunteers,” he said. “They dedicate themselves to repairing with kindness and love as part of this ministry. I’d like for Home Repairs to train younger volunteers who want to learn how to do these trades so this work can continue. People who are going to trade schools and need hands-on practice hours; small groups in churches for men, women and couples – we don’t want to exclude any sort of volunteer base at all.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers and donors; in fact, there’s more need than we currently have funds to handle so we’re working to raise as much money as we can to help more homeowners,” he said. “We need people to help in every area of this organization. If you have a heart for this kind of ministry, please come and be a part of it – we’d love to have you!”