Member Spotlight: Working Cooperatively for a Brighter Tomorrow
on June 06, 2019
The home accessibility industry is all about one thing: helping people. We help make households safer and more accessible so our clients can continue to live in the place they call home. However, those most in need of home modifications are often not in a spot financially to do so.
For those struggling to make necessary renovations, there’s People Working Cooperatively (PWC), a nonprofit organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They serve low‐income households by providing critical home repairs, energy conservation, and modification for mobility services. What began as a small, two-man operation in 1975 has grown to a robust group of more than 120 licensed, professionally trained staff members and administrative personnel and over 4,000 volunteers.
“We were established as a job training organization teaching construction skills," said Jock Pitts, president of PWC. "As programs developed, we began providing home repairs for the elderly, persons with disabilities and other low‐income individuals, and our mission adjusted to that focus. Today, they perform nearly 10,000 services each year to help some of the most vulnerable populations in Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southwestern Indiana.
PWC’s work repairing homes has been shown to positively impact the health of the individuals living in these homes. PWC is working to repair homes so that they are safe and sound, while simultaneously focusing on providing services that will benefit the health of the occupants.
For example, work related to fall safety for seniors, reducing mold and allergens that can trigger asthma, and lead-based paint remediation are a few of the ways PWC focuses on the health of the residents. Because of this added value, Jock points out that for every dollar they spend, many more dollars are saved. PWC’s mission focusing on home and health serves a societal benefit and saves money.
Nina Creech, senior vice president of PWC, has found plenty of reasons to continue their mission. “We make it possible for our clients to live safer and healthier lives in their homes,” added Nina. “The PWC staff and volunteers are truly dedicated to helping our neighbors in need and strengthening our community.”
Brad Staggs, senior project manager at PWC, reiterated that point. “We have a skilled workforce of mission-focused tradespeople, which makes PWC a very unique organization. Over the past 44 years, we have impacted more than 320,000 individuals in our community.”
In 2012, PWC created Whole Home as another way to support the organization and its mission. The social enterprise is a for‐profit service offered to local homeowners above the eligible income required for PWC services. It offers similar services to PWC but with the option to use higher‐end materials and designs to make a safe home more stylish. All profits from Whole Home’s work are donated back to PWC.
PWC also seeks to advance the home accessibility industry as a whole through this project. It’s a place where community members, public agencies, private organizations, and professionals from many fields can come together to learn about the impact the home has on health.
“The Whole Home Innovation Center is a place for learning,” Jock stated. “We’re bringing together the history and experience of PWC and Whole Home under one roof to educate our community on the relationship between health and home and how to prepare for unique situations across the lifespan.”
At the Whole Home Innovation Center, anyone who touches home accessibility – from contractors, to realtors, to doctors, to the families affected – can come together to share what they know and learn how to better the industry for all.
“We’re looking to change the industry by changing the way people think," said Nina. "People have their area of expertise, and we want the Innovation Center to be a place to share their knowledge.
When asked what could be done to help their cause, in classic PWC fashion, they didn’t ask for much. “Invest in some way, whether its time, dollars, or talent,” Jock said.
And finally, Nina capped it off by making a simple request, “To anyone interested, we’d love you to get involved. It’s how we keep learning.”
To reach out to PWC, visit pwchomerepairs.org or call 513‐351‐7921. To learn more about Whole Home and The Innovation Center, visit wholehome.org.
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