Mrs. Catherine’s Home Repair Story: “You can’t ask for a better organization to help.”

We thank Mrs. Catherine for sharing her story and experience as a home repair program participant.

Mrs. Catherine’s favorite memories in her home are the countless improvements she and her late husband Emmanuel made over the years. From closing in the basement to redoing the kitchen cabinets to adding a sunroom where she could sit and enjoy her many plants, they made a house a home.

Professionally, Mrs. Catherine cared for older adults in nursing homes and hospitals for years, including Greenville Memorial and St. Francis. Emmanuel McCord was a veteran of the Air Force. They were married 27 years. The pair lived in several places in Greenville County throughout their early married life, where rent was often too high, and landlords refused to repair what was broken. 

Mrs. Catherine displays photos of her husband’s memorial and the burial flag.

The couple wanted to feel settled and know what it was like to have their own place.

They applied for a Habitat for Humanity house, were approved, and became homeowners just before Christmas Day nearly 30 years ago. Mrs. Catherine remembers going straight home from her night shift job to unpack boxes and decorate the house so that it would feel like Christmas for their children.

When Emmanuel passed away seven years ago, Mrs. Catherine lost her lifelong partner and the home improvement expert. Finances became tighter, preventing her from maintaining the home. “I try to stand on my own two feet, but it’s hard.”

The windows were her main concern. The framing surrounding the windows was rotten. She couldn’t open them to let in fresh air or clean them. In the winter, she had to put plastic on the windows to try and prevent the cold air from coming in. She couldn’t afford to replace the windows herself with quotes ranging from $5,000-7,000.

“At one time, I was just going to let it (the house) go. I just got disgusted and didn’t have the money to fix it the way I wanted. So I was ready to dump it on the first person who came by and gave me an offer.” 

Mrs. Catherine’s daughter wanted to help her mom stay in the home she built with her father. She applied for Rebuild Upstate’s assistance on her mother’s behalf.

Volunteers pose next to a Rebuild Upstate tool trailer.

Rebuild Upstate assessed the needs of the home and immediately got to work. Repairs included:

  • Adding safety handrails to the front steps where Mrs. Catherine had fallen before.
  • Rebuild Upstate’s Advisory Council members replaced 7 windows on the home in just a few hours.
  • Members of the Handyman Club and Screwdriver Squad worked several days to replace the bathroom and hallway flooring and a few pieces of siding on the home’s exterior.
  • All repairs were completed at no cost to Mrs. Catherine. 

On how repairs have improved her life, Mrs. Catherine says: “I love my floors. They are so pretty. I can walk on them and don’t have to hear them crack. I love my windows. I can let them up and get some fresh air. I couldn’t let them up at first. They were all rotted out.” She has also seen a significant decrease in her monthly energy bill since having the windows replaced. 

Mrs. McCord looks forward to continuing to make improvements to her home and decorating for the holidays. 

“You can’t ask for a better organization to help. The volunteers were nice and reliable. I would recommend Rebuild Upstate to anyone who needs help.” 

Rebuild Upstate not only repairs homes to keep folks safe in the moment; repairs help homeowners, especially older adults, maintain safety and homeownership for years. 

Your donation to Rebuild Upstate helps make homes safer for older adults and families with children across the Upstate. Give now to help someone like Mrs. Catherine remain safe at home.