SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Now in its third year of existence, the Elks Lodge No. 1899 Home Maintenance and Repair Program continues to grow, thanks largely to donations and grant money, like the legislative grant presented Monday by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (South Kingstown, Narragansett).
“This is just another step toward acknowledgement of the program and what we’re doing in the community,” said committee chair Ken Kenerson, after being handed the giant check on the lawn of the Elks Lodge on Belmont Avenue.
The program, known commonly as HoMRAP, was founded in 2015 with the help of grant funding from the national Elks foundation. The program had its genesis in the recognition that many elderly and disabled residents in town need help to make necessary home improvements.
“We came upon a real need to help our seniors and disabled that don’t have the resources available to them allowing them to stay in their homes,” Kenerson said.
To date the Elks have completed 50 projects through HoMRAP.
The South Kingstown Elks lodge in 2015 was among 20 nationally—there are around 2,000 lodges across the county—to receive the full $10,000 impact grant to be put toward the program. The impact grant is the largest one offered by the foundation, and HoMRAP has received $10,000 through it for three years in a row.
“Because of what the national [Elks foundation] thinks of this program we’ve developed, they’ve given us the full amount for the three years,” said Kenerson, adding that typically the amount would decrease by 20 percent each year.
Kenerson added that the organization is still waiting to hear back on that funding for 2018.
Over the last few years, over 25 volunteers have devoted hundreds of hours to projects including small repairs, paint jobs, and wheelchair ramp installation—the group so far has built four ramps.
“We have volunteers who are very skilled at carpentry work,” Kenerson said, “we have painters, we have yard workers—and we’re just very proud.”
Tanzi visited the South Kingstown Elks Lodge Monday evening during the group’s monthly meeting to present to the members a $1,000 check.
“I was reviewing the projects that [the Elks] have before them and I can see how somebody—for whatever reason, they’re elderly, they’re disabled, they’re just getting to the point where they’re not able to care for their home or they may have lost a partner or a spouse—could just need an extra hand,” Tanzi said Monday. “It touched me to know that there’s an organization that’s willing to fill in when a family or a neighbor isn’t able to help.”
Tanzi added that she was particularly impressed by the organization’s commitment to both executing the work, themselves, and to raising the money needed for the dozens of projects it’s tackled.
“It just struck me as something unique,” she said, “and it’s something that we don’t see a lot of, and it certainly was something that I wanted to be able to support.”
After learning of the program through several of its volunteers and beneficiaries, Kenerson said Tanzi offered immediately to seek legislative funding.
The program currently accepts applicants from residents of both South Kingstown and Narragansett, although Kenerson said the group plans to expand its services into North Kingstown, as well. He added, though, that the group is somewhat limited due to its small volunteer base, adding that new volunteers are always welcome.
“We’re just very proud of the program,” Kenerson said, “and I think our community is pleased by what we’ve been able to do.”
“We’ve received numerous letters from people thanking us for what we do,” he continued, “but that’s not why we do it. We want to help, and we will do whatever we can.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with HoMRAP can give Kenerson a call at 789-5400 ext. 805. Elks membership is not required to become a volunteer.