LYNCHBURG — Two and a half years ago, a veterinarian helped a woman in Faber with her dog. Now, the woman has been helped with a new home and a working septic system.
Joyce Vest, a lifelong Nelson County resident, lived in a trailer in Faber without proper plumbing or a septic system. She would go next door to her daughter’s home to use the facilities. Now, because of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Vest has a new home, complete with clean, running water.
“I’m so excited,” Vest said. “We have come a long way.”
SERCAP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting low-income, rural families with their housing needs. The group helps people in Virginia and other states by providing indoor plumbing rehabilitation program; income for those in need of home repair or water-related projects; and housing counseling.
Through the plumbing program, offered in 11 counties in Virginia, homeowners can apply for financial assistance to bring their home clean, running water.
In December 2016, veterinarian Stacey Reeder met Vest through the Mosby Foundation and began helping with her dog, which needed medical treatment. When Reeder saw the trailer Vest was living in with no running water, she knew she had to help.
“After a lot of research, I finally found SERCAP,” Reeder said.
After Vest applied for the plumbing program, her trailer was blown away by the storms that struck the area last summer.
“We had started her in the process and as we were going through, her house was blown away. She was slated to get a new home then,” said Kenneth Rodgers, a rural housing specialist and lead risk assessor for SERCAP. Through the program, SERCAP can either rehabilitate an old home or build a new one.
In April, SERCAP had completed all of the necessary title searches and inspections, and gathered the money needed to start building Vest a new house with running water.
“She was a really big success story,” said Cherry Wilson, housing manager for SERCAP.
By May 15, Vest had a new house, septic system and running water. The house has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living room, along with a ramp and a handicap-accessible shower.
“It’s been a fun two and a half years,” Reeder said.
The house cost about $100,000 to build, in addition to fees for pre-construction necessities. SERCAP is celebrating its 50th year in operation, and Ellen Smith, the group’s housing coordinator, said they were happy to work with Vest to make this project come to fruition.
The Department of Housing and Community Development funds the plumbing program that made Vest’s home possible. Rodgers said SERCAP is always looking for ways to help people and needs to do at least four plumbing projects each year to keep its stream of funding.
“I’ve never worked with someone as thankful or gracious as Ms. Vest,” Smith said.