We sat down with James, founder of the 516 Project, to learn a little about the 516 Project, what they offer and how you can help!
Q: James, tell me a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in Fredericksburg and graduated from James Monroe High school. I’ve been involved with construction trades most of my life. My wife, Jill, and I got married in 2006 and have 3 kids. Jill works as a school counselor for Spotsylvania county. I started 516 Project in 2016 and have been running it full time since July 2018. We will celebrate our 5 year anniversary in February 2021!
Q: How did the 516 project get started?
A: It started from a desire to serve and share the love of Jesus. After a Sunday school class we decided to do some sort of home repair for a local family in need. As we asked others in our church if they knew of someone in need of a repair we ended up with more people that wanted to help and multiple families that needed repairs. The first actual workday was in November of 2015. After that workday, I knew this was something I was supposed to do more with. We had over 30 people come help that day and worked on about 8 different homes.
Q: What types of projects does the 516 Project do?
A: Home repairs and maintenance. We put a big focus on wheelchair ramps and issues with safe access/egress from homes. We also do a lot of roof repairs to keep homes dry. Our yard team helps with yard maintenance and clean up for a number of elderly and disabled that can’t care for these things on their own.
Q: How do you decide who to help?
A: Most come to us from a referral from another organization and church. We then do an assessment at the home to see exactly what is needed and if it something we (A) have the ability / people to do the work and (B) have the finances to cover materials etc.
Q: If someone needs help, how do they apply? Is there a cost?
A: Folks that need help can apply via our website at www.516project.org. If they don’t have internet access they can call us at 540-940-6794 and we can get an application to them. There is no cost.
Q: If someone would like to help out with the 516 Project, how do they do that?
A: We send out emails and texts with upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Sign up for emails on the website, www.516project.org and sign up for text by texting 516project (all one word) to 77222
Q: What types of volunteers do you accept? Is there an age limit?
A: We’ve had volunteers of all types and skill levels. Most projects are open to all, occasionally, for projects that involve heavy equipment or heights we will limit to 18 and older.
Q: What general tips do you have for readers as winter approaches?
A: (1) GUTTERS: Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. This one task can save you big money. A clogged gutter can cause damage to your roof, siding and even foundation. Make sure all leaves and debris are cleared out and water runs freely in all gutters and downspouts. Make sure all brackets are secure and there is no gap behind the gutter. Though this can be a simple task to take care of on your own, please use caution since most homes require you to climb a ladder to reach the gutters.
(2) WINDOWS AND DOORS: Check around windows and doors for any gaps. Particularly with older style wood windows the temperature change can cause gaps. Install weather stripping or caulk as appropriate to your situation. You can also get window wrap kits from your local hardware store to help cover any draft points and keep your home warmer.
(3) HVAVC: Make sure to replace the filters for your HVAC system. Typically recommend doing this monthly to ensure efficiency of your system. I’d also consider having ducts cleaned by a professional. This helps eliminate mold and allergens in your home.
(4) PLUMBING: Make sure exterior faucets are off and wrapped with insulation to prevent freezing and busted pipes. Make sure you know where your water shut off is in case a pipe does burst.
(5) FIREPLACE: If you plan to use a wood or gas fire place, have them serviced and cleaned professionally. This helps eliminate harmful gasses getting into your home or possible fire hazards.
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, these items will help you maintain a safe and efficient home.