ENCINITAS — Jean Brinson’s patio roof was infested with termites, and she knew it was going to be expensive to replace it. She called Jim Wade, Home Team coordinator with the Encinitas Rotary who manages a group of volunteers that make minor home repairs for local seniors.
“Their team came out, measured it and they were efficient in completely replacing the patio roof and painting it the correct color to be in compliance with the homeowners association,” she explained. “They also trimmed my tree, replaced the spotlights and outdoor light fixtures, cleaned up and hauled everything away. They were absolutely terrific!”
Brinson was familiar with the service as a past member of the Del Mar Rotary Club when she lived in Solana Beach.
“I was on their fundraising committee, and was very active in the club, so I knew about the good works the Rotary does,” she added.
News about the Home Team quickly spread through Brinson’s 55-plus community of High Country Villas. Four more seniors stepped forward to ask for assistance with repairs.
Seniors usually hear about the program through word-of-mouth referral or brochures that are distributed to local mobile home parks and senior communities. Typically, older people have a difficult time with many common household repairs due to physical limitations or safety issues which, for example, can prevent them from climbing a ladder to replace a simple light bulb. Sometimes the cost of repair is prohibitive and there is no family willing or able to provide assistance.
Other times seniors can lack assertiveness in demanding that a resident manager make routine repairs. The Home Team received a request from a woman at an Encinitas 55-plus apartment complex who was one of several residents needing widespread repairs on her garbage disposable, toilet and kitchen lights. After completing the work, members of the Home Team confronted the resident manager to remind him that he was required by law to maintain the property.
Wade said the group has been around for two years, and consists of about 34 volunteers who include carpenters, home builders, electricians, plumbers and engineers. He screens all requests for assistance arriving via phone or email and first assesses if the Home Team is equipped to do the job.
“One lady wanted us to plant a flower bed — about 16 people showed up and it took us one hour,” he said. “She was amazed. It was instant gratification because so many people are so appreciative.
“Another lady had a little house with flowers that was always featured in the Parade of Homes. She had cancer and had to have a lung removed. They asked if we could do some weeding at her home. It took us about two weekends, and 17 or 18 people, but she’s back on the circuit again.”
When the Home Team arrives at a home they introduce themselves and present identification. Then they’ll review the request and ask the homeowner to sign a simple liability waiver.
“Sometimes we do three or four jobs on a weekend with a week-and-a-half’s notice,” Wade said. “If I get a call from someone who says their smoke alarm is beeping all the time, then we can’t wait. I call up the guys, twist their arms, and say, ‘C’mon, we’ve got to do this tomorrow.’”
There’s no charge for services. If a homeowner needs a door, they are expected to supply it unless they can’t afford to. If that’s the case, the Home Team will make the purchase using money from their fund. Recently they bought and installed 40 carbon monoxide detectors for seniors.
Seniors who want to take advantage of services provided by the Home Team can do so by calling (760) 933-8502 or emailing Encinitas.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone can support the Home Team by visiting EncinitasRotary.com or participating in an annual fundraising breakfast at the Encinitas Senior Center in February.
“We are there to make their life better,” Wade said. “There are more seniors coming along every year. We get a lot out of helping them.”