Teaching a mom to fish: a decade-long partnership
Updated: Jul 28
She’s a single mom of five, and her youngest son has special needs. For Keller K., making ends meet is hard.
“I’m a freelance musician, worship leader, and a swim coach,” Keller said. “I’ve done so many different jobs just to put food on the table for my kids.”
However, when it came to her home, between a fallen tree, a broken fence, moldy bathroom tiles, a cracked vanity, and a defective garbage disposal, there was just too much for her to do on her own. Outside help was a must.
Luckily, Home Repairs Ministries was able to help. Through a service weekend with Perimeter Church over a decade ago, Home Repairs was able to help Keller with some basic repairs, such as repairing a ceiling fan and installing a new toilet. However, over time it became obvious that there was much more that needed fixing.
“When I lived in Suwanee, they repaired my screen porch. The whole thing would have fallen off otherwise. Later I discovered black mold under the bathroom tiles, and the mold would have worsened if they hadn’t helped. I live on a limited income, and without Home Repairs, none of those projects would have happened,” she said.
“They are really good at what they do and so detail-oriented. They provide professional, solid work, better than what you might get from a contractor.”
Since moving to Fulton County nearly three years ago, Keller’s relationship with Home Repairs has continued to grow.
“A tree went down a year ago, and they were able to pull together a few guys to remove the fallen tree and chop it up. They also fixed the fence that had been crushed. It was amazing! I love how much they enjoyed using their chainsaws,” she laughed.
Keller has developed a special bond with two particular members of Home Repairs’ team.
“John Manderscheid and Ned Lesh are like my adopted dads and are two of my favorite people on the planet. They remind me of the two old men on the Muppet show. They have a running dialogue that is so funny sometimes, and you can tell there is a genuine love for each other,” Keller said.
“Of all the people in my world and my circles, there are no men - pastors, teachers, worship leaders - that I esteem higher than Ned and John. I don’t see many men like them in this world. They are renaissance men who love Jesus and are the most real, living examples of what Jesus would be doing if He were still physically on Earth at this time. They are retired and have decided to work five days a week with their free time to love and serve other people. Who does that?”
Not only has Keller gained friends that have become family, but, through her experience with Home Repairs, she has also gained skills of her own.
“I should probably go join their team as I’ve learned so much from them!” she said.
“I call Home Repairs first, because I want to know if I can do something on my own now. I was able to gut my own bathroom. I’ve learned how to install chandeliers, gas ovens and outlets, because they’ve taught me how to do these things. Ned even talked me through, over the phone, how to turn off the gas line to install my stove.
“I’ve experienced these men teaching me how to fish, metaphorically, as well as providing for me when I’ve needed it.”
Ned Lesh says, “It’s truly a pleasure to work with Keller. I’m constantly amazed by what she’s willing to do on her own; she’ll try just about anything. I knew that fixing the gas line to her stove was a rather complex project, but her answer was ‘I can do this.’ And she did!
Keller needs a little help from time-to-time, but she shows such appreciation when a project is completed. I always feel good driving home after a Keller project!”
Being a single mom of five can make everyday challenges even more difficult, but Keller shares that she’s seen the impact of Home Repairs’ volunteers in the lives of her now-adult children.
“It has changed my life seeing how these men have had such a positive impact on all five of my kids,” she said. “The joy of the Lord is their strength, and it just changes the atmosphere of my home. They give their time, share joy, and joke with us, and it lifts my spirits. My heart is so amazed by their lives.”
For John Manderscheid, who has known Keller for almost 10 years, serving women like Keller is gratifying. “Keller is a great example of who our ministry was designed to help: A single mom with a special needs child who works hard to get by. We have been blessed to have helped Keller over the many years. She is a joy to be around. She has a positive attitude and she sometimes sings a song or two for us while we work. She also does a lot on her own and always wants to learn more each time we help her.”
Repairing homes and hearts is Home Repairs’ mission, and Keller is living proof that Home Repairs volunteers meet both physical and spiritual needs.
“It’s great to have the home repairs help, but the kind of help that they bring is a whole-person help,” she said. “The most significant thing to me is not the fixing of things that need to be repaired, but it's the way that the people bring light, joy, and love into my home environment. You feel like you are part of their family and community.
There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. They aren’t ministering to you because you are so bad and they are so good, but because they desire to share the love of Christ and care for their community. Home Repairs has always been a huge blessing for us, and I simply cannot say enough about this ministry.”