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Habitat Repairs-Helping Homeowners Age In Place.

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Margaret Rohden keeps an inviting home. The ranch style house in a sunny Cheyenne neighborhood is filled with light, plants, art, and photos of the life she and her partner, Gerry Sims have created over the last 22 years since blending their families together.

Mr. Sims purchased the home in 1995, after serving in the Air Force and finding Cheyenne to be the kind of community he wanted to call home.

"I loved the fresh air, the winter, the friendly people, this place was right down my alley." Said Gerry, who followed his military service with a career with the US Postal Service.

Margaret, originally from a warmer climate, loves Cheyenne as well, despite being less enthusiastic about the cold winters. She's proud her twins were among the first graduating class of the new Cheyenne South High School. Another child followed Gerry's footsteps and serves in the Air Force. Photos of family, military memorabilia, trophies and memories can be found throughout the home, but Margaret is especially proud of what Gerry calls "the Shrine"- a wall of smiling faces throughout the years telling a story of a family full of love. Its the kind thing that truly makes a house a home.

Today, Gerry and Margaret do their best to keep the house in good working order. But health issues that come with age on a fixed income make that easier said than done. Its a challenge many homeowners in Cheyenne face.

"As folks get older it gets harder to keep up with all of those things a house needs. People want to age in place, but when a house becomes unsafe- we want to do what we can to help our neighbors age gracefully, right where they want to be- at home." Said Habitat Repairs Coordinator, Pat McIlwain.

Habitat Repairs will be helping Gerry and Margaret this spring, with a number of projects.

Gerry, who uses a wheelchair, is having a hard time safely moving about the home and can no longer access the backyard at all. The concrete slab to the back yard has cracked, and the stairs entering the home have begun to pull away from the home, resulting in water damage to the basement drywall. Habitat will be installing new flooring to improve Gerry's mobility inside the home, and replacing the concrete slab and stairs with a ramp to that he may enjoy his sunny yard once again.

Inside, drywall will be replaced where the water seeped in, and other minor repairs will be competed by an electrician and by Habitat's Construction team.

Later this spring, when the weather allows outdoor work- volunteers will be recruited to clean up overgrowth in the yard (including a shrub that Margaret has valiantly tried to keep from tearing her living room screens) and a side fence will be repaired.

A home is the single biggest investment most of us will ever make. It’s the bedrock of the American dream. Work hard, purchase a home, build equity to sustain you through retirement and hopefully have some capital to pass down to the next generation, so they can build their lives on the foundation of that equity.

These days, that's too often easier said than done. Low to moderate-income homeowners need a hand protecting the value of the homes they've built their lives in.

Habitat Repairs was created to help homeowners in this situation. Habitat coordinates repairs needed to make a home safe, secure, and healthy for low-income homeowners, often elderly and/or disabled. The homeowners repay a portion of the repair cost, on a schedule that is not a burden to their monthly budget. Habitat keeps costs as low as possible, using volunteer labor for projects whenever possible, and by asking for discounts from subcontractors when appropriate.

Gerry and Margaret will get the repairs they need for Gerry to move safely around the home in his wheelchair and protect the equity in their home, enabling them to age in place safely. Their repayments will help another homeowner in need creating a virtuous cycle that offers a hand-up to homeowners in need.

Habitat needs your help to serve families like Gerry and Margaret. Your donation helps Habitat pay for the materials and labor needed for repairs, and volunteers to complete the work. Habitat Repairs projects are a simple way to love your neighbor and make a big impact with your time and resources. And since homeowners served pay back a portion of the cost of their repairs- donations to the program support future projects for other homeowners as well.

For more information on our Repairs Program, or to volunteer- please contact our Repairs Coordinator Pat McIlwain at or by calling 307-637-8067.

Please consider a gift to the Habitat Repairs program- every gift makes a difference in building a strong, stable community.

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