Ledell Kendall was not prepared for the news she received when a small group from Acts of Kindness, the outreach ministry of the Church in the Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, appeared at her door on a Sunday morning in mid-March 2019.
Michael Dauncey, the media and outreach pastor for this thriving congregation in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, shared the exciting news that the single mother had been chosen as the Acts of Kindness recipient for Extreme Home Repair 2019.
The Extreme Home Repair program began in 2004, inspired by an American television show of a similar name. And while the reality TV show is no longer running, this initiative continues, building community and cultivating better lives for residents of the greater Langley area. It is the church’s eighteenth project.
Each year, community members nominate deserving families who are facing difficult circumstances related to housing or resources for major home renovations or repairs. Acts of Kindness chooses a nominee and, with the support of volunteers and local businesses, gives their home a complete makeover.
Kendall is a single mother to 16-year-old Francis, who has autism. She was nominated by her sister, who shared that Kendall works very hard, but caring for her son full-time and trying to provide food, household expenses, and car repairs leave little time or extra money to put toward home maintenance. Several significant repairs were urgently needed to make their house a safe and healthy place to live.
When Kendall learned that she had won the Extreme Home Repair, she said she couldn’t believe it. “No way!” she exclaimed. “I am so overwhelmed. I’ll be crying later.” Francis clapped from his seat on the couch.
The work began on May 3, 2019, with more than 150 volunteers and more than 85 businesses donating time and construction materials. In two weeks, the home makeover was complete, with a renovation whose value is estimated at nearly Can$100,000 (around US$75,000), provided by community support.
A large crowd gathered under misty conditions for the big reveal — neither Kendall or her son had seen any of the progress — on May 20. A large school bus shielded the house from view, and as everyone yelled, “Move that bus!” Kendall and Francis saw their home for the first time and showed utter shock at what they saw.
Dauncey shared that Kendall “didn’t think it was her house. But then she knew it was because we listened to what she liked regarding décor, and she noticed. She loved the decorating and was blown away by all the new appliances. She felt extremely blessed to have this done for her.”
Dauncey added, ”Being a part of this ministry allows you to witness first hand God working through people. This is bigger than just our church. It’s exciting for me to see community people, Christians from other churches, atheists, you name it … helping us with our one common goal — to make life better for a family in need. I have learned that there’s nothing more powerful than a volunteer’s heart. It never ceases to amaze me — the giving that takes place. This project has changed me.”
The Extreme Home Repair program changes participants’ lives in other ways too. Many of the past recipients pitch in to help with each new project; some participate in an annual golf fundraising event to support Acts of Kindness projects; some have been baptized or started Bible studies with church members as a result.
“I believe this does have a large impact, and perhaps that’s why we keep doing it,” Dauncey concluded. “Jesus inspired us to help those who are in need, and this is one way we can do that. He’s the God of second chances, and that’s what we’re doing here — giving people another start. I can’t put into words the amazing blessing this ministry is to the recipient and those volunteering on the project. Everyone wins!”