SHARP celebrates 4 years of helping Clawson seniors

Volunteers sought to continue home repair program

By: Heidi Roman | Royal Oak Review | Published September 28, 2011

 Troy resident Terry Hart installs a storm door at a Clawson senior’s home. Hart volunteers with the Clawson SHARP program, which provides minor home repairs to seniors at no cost.

Troy resident Terry Hart installs a storm door at a Clawson senior’s home. Hart volunteers with the Clawson SHARP program, which provides minor home repairs to seniors at no cost.

Photo by Edward Osinski

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CLAWSON — For a senior citizen teetering between maintaining their independence at home or moving to a facility that provides assistance, the little things can make a big difference.

Many seniors have trouble climbing a ladder to change a light bulb or hoisting a heavy window air conditioner, but have no problem taking care of themselves and their home in general.

Clawson’s Senior Home Assistance Repair Program (SHARP) steps in to fill in those gaps in ability. The program matches volunteers with local seniors for small repairs and housework at no cost.

“It premiered in Troy in 2007,” said program coordinator Kathy Leenhouts. “I was trying to find some kind of program to put into place here in Clawson (in 2008), and I stumbled across this SHARP program.”

Leenhouts worked with the North Woodward Community Foundation to administer the program and drum up some volunteers. They found some at Clawson United Methodist Church.

Terry Hart, a Troy resident, was a member of the men’s group at the church and has been involved with SHARP since it began.

“These days, everyone’s trying to save money and seniors are trying to stay in their homes longer,” Hart said. “I like doing it, I like simple home repairs. They are very grateful for the service, and it’s a pleasure for us to do this because it’s a pleasure for them.”

Hart has trimmed overgrown bushes, taken care of minor electrical and plumbing repairs, replaced a kitchen faucet and installed storm doors. Sometimes the task is something as simple as changing a light bulb. The program does not include regular yard mowing.

Volunteers will do most basic repairs and tasks that do not require a permit. The labor is free, but the senior must pay for any parts required for it.

“They’re the kind of things a handyman would take care of,” Leenhouts said. “The idea is to do things the senior isn’t able to do anymore. Sometimes we live with these (repairs) for a long time before they’re taken care of.”

SHARP has been working steadily over the years, she said. From October to December of 2008, when it first began, the program received 30 assistance requests from residents. In 2009 there were 117 requests, but many were requests to install cable converter boxes, and 72 requests in 2010. So far this year, SHARP has received 76 requests.

Leenhouts said the program started out with 15 volunteers, and some have come and gone over the years, leaving about 13 currently involved in the program.

Anyone interested in helping out is encouraged to do so. Volunteers go through a training program before receiving assignments and are able to decide which requests for repairs they would like to work on. They do not have to be residents of the city.

Seniors who own their homes in Clawson are eligible for assistance through the program.

For more information about SHARP, or to volunteer, call Leenhouts at the Clawson Senior Center at (248) 583-6700 or email kleenhouts@cityofclawson.com.
 

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