Home Repair Services Offers Heating Assistance

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There’s nothing worse than getting to this time of year and finding out your furnace is on the fritz.  And for some in our West Michigan, getting it fixed can break the budget.

Fortunately, there are organizations that exist to lend a hand in just that type of situation;  Home Repair Services is one option to help homeowners in Kent County.

Portable electric heaters have been the only thing keeping Josephine Gonzalez warm for the past two weeks, after the furnace died in the southeast Grand Rapids home she and her husband bought less than a month ago.

“All of a sudden, I felt like it was really cold in our house, I told my husband, ‘Something’s going on,” Gonzalez said.  She used the appliance service contract she had purchased from Consumers Energy to have a technician check out the problem.  The old unit had to be shut down immediately due to a potential carbon monoxide threat.  “And I said, ‘Oh my God, so what are we going to do? He says, ‘You need a new furnace,” she said.

That new furnace is now up and running this week, thanks to Home Repair Services of Kent County.

“Josephine contacted us because her furnace needed to be replaced,” said agency weatherization supervisor Todd Calhoun.   “We were able to work with Department of Human Services to obtain some funding, we contacted one of our contractors to come and replace the furnace.”

Calhoun says the agency will help repair or replace about one hundred furnaces this year, working in cooperation with companies like Protech Heating and Cooling.  Homeowners must fill out an application, meet certain income requirements, and work out a plan to pay for the repairs.

Losing heat wasn’t just difficult for Josephine and her husband, but also on the couple’s new chihuahua puppies — one litter just born, and another on the way.  While the puppies got a heater in the dining room – Josephine and her husband covered the windows and hunkered down in the living room.

“We had to bring our mattress and we’ve been living here,” Gonzalez said.  “We’ve been sleeping here, going to the kitchen, eating here, because this is the warmest part.”

Calhoun says a good way to avoid this type of situation is to have your furnace tuned up and cleaned before the cold weather hits.

“To me, it’s almost like insurance – you’ll pay for it now, but if you don’t have to call a furnace contractor on a Saturday night at ten o’clock in the middle of winter, it’s definitely going to be worth it,” he said.

Gonzalez says she appreciates the people who helped her out in an emergency, and recommends the service to others.  “Oh yes, definitely,” she said.  “If they have an emergency like I did, they need to contact Home Repair Services.”

Home Repair Services is always in need of donations and volunteers to help build things like wheelchair ramps.  They only operate in Kent County, so check with your local human services agency to find out if similar help is available in your area.

In another note, Josephine is selling some of her chihuahua puppies; if you are interested, please send Jon Shaner an email at jshaner@fox17online.com for her contact information.

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  • Cassie

    I think it is a wonderful thing to donate a furnace, a source of heat, to a family in need. I do not, however, believe that new sources should advertise, support, or encourage a business, or person that breeds dogs. I think the message that you are sending is a very dangerous one.

    It is important to remember that 11,000 shelter dogs are killed each day, and yet, as a species we are still breeding, and over breeding (most of the time inbreeding) to a point where dogs are born with serious defects and health concerns because of human negligence. This act should not be done as a source of income and should not be advertised. National figures indicate that about half of the dogs in shelters are euthanized due to to lack of homes. Also, 25%-%30 of shelter dogs are purebreds (if you want a Chihuahua, do your research, and you will find one at a shelter in need of a home).

    At this time, my husband and I are fostering a reverse brindle flashy boxer with a docked tail, here in West Michigan all the way from a high-kill shelter in South Carolina (take-away message: you can ADOPT the breed you want, be patient, open your heart, and find your future fur-baby at a shelter or rescue). Please head this message FOX 17. Support rescues! Don't shop, adopt!