CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The puzzles and pictures that adorn James Coffey’s Chesapeake home offer a glimpse at his past.
“Well, I’ve done everything. I was a delivery parts driver for First Team Toyota. I’ve been all over Tidewater; that was my job,” said 88-year-old Coffey, who has a full head of beautifully trimmed white hair.
He left that job only three years ago after he was diagnosed with bone cancer. His wife Joanne died in 2016 and sometime after that, water damage forced him to shut down his upstairs bathroom.
“It’s been a couple of years since I had been in a bathtub and I needed some help with the bathroom,” he said.
A friend recommended Coffey contact Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads. In October, the organization, known for helping young first-time homebuyers, launched a program to help seniors who need help repairing their homes.
Three weeks ago, the Critical Home Repair unit hired crews to install a lift chair, repair damage caused by water that had seeped to the first floor, and repair the bathroom, which also had water damage.
“I just walk in it; I love it it’s great,” he said.
Habitat has a waiting list of 60 other seniors who need help just to stay warm safe and dry. The need is expected to skyrocket because of the pandemic.
“We won’t see the impact of the COVID-type for a couple more years — when that spouse lost a long-term spouse and is now on half income — so in the next two to three years, we are going to see those people,” said Frank Hruska, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity South Hampton Roads.
The new program has a budget of about $200,000 thanks to contributions from the City of Chesapeake, Sentara Cares, and the Home Depot Foundation. Hruska says additional funding is desperately needed as the average repair has a price tag of $15,000.