Volunteers give Richmond woman needed AC repairs amidst supply shortages

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Although the pandemic has added to a labor and supply shortage for a number of industries, it hasn’t stopped one Richmond woman from receiving some much-needed home repairs.

A joint effort between a local non-profit and HVAC contractors gave Laverne Harris what she needs most ahead of the winter: a new heating and cooling system.

She’s been living on Richmond’s southside for about 40 years, but over time her AC system stopped working.

In the winter, her heat wouldn’t turn on and in the summertime her air conditioning struggled to keep up. That changed on Friday.

“If it were not for them, me being by myself and me being the age that I am, my house would’ve been falling down,” said Harris. “I wouldn’t have a roof, I wouldn’t have air conditioning. They’re just a blessing,.”

Rebuilding Together Richmond, a local non-profit that helps people in need get home repairs, partnered with David Reid from Lennox Industries to make it possible.

Reid is the Territory Manager for Lennox and donated $8,000 worth of equipment for the project.

Wes Gauvin, Managing Partner of Herman Allen Plumbing Heating and Cooling, said his team also assisted with the project. Every year, he and his team install equipment for free to residents in need.

He added that the pandemic has been a big challenge for the HVAC industry.

“I think it’s still going to be several months, maybe up to a year before things start to normalize,” said Gauvin. “We’re trying to make do with what we can and be proactive.”

He said he’s trying to hire workers ahead of time and stock up on materials to continue giving back.

“Computer chips and compressors and inverters, coils,” said Gauvin. “It’s not the finished goods that are really holding things up, but as much as the raw materials to build those goods.”

Malcolm Jones, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Richmond, said his organization is prioritizing homeowners and residents who need help.

“During the pandemic it’s stated in order to stay safe, stay in your home. But for many of homeowners and residents in the community home is not necessarily safe, so with our organization we’re able to partner with generous volunteers and supporters to make them safe,” he said.

Rebuilding Together Richmond partners with local organizations to repair homes of local southside residents at no charge. Jones said this season is their annual “Fall Fix-Up Program” which is a project led by volunteers to promote safe and healthy housing.

Harris said she’s grateful for the organizations’ service.

“It’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to be done but the pandemic came and stopped it. But I just thank God that they had me on their minds,” she said.

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