COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - We're recognizing another unsung hero in our community through the Community Builder award in partnership with Mungo Homes.
This week's Community Builder is actually a literal builder. He's been repairing homes in Columbia and throughout the Southeast through his non-profit, Home Works of America for nearly two decades.
"We learn from our children," said Hank Chardos, founder of Home Works of America. "Our oldest daughter went on a church mission for a week, and Jennifer came back and she said, 'Dad, you've got to do this.'"
Chardos says he was an IRS agent when his daughter planted that seed more than 20 years ago. In 1996, Home Works was born.
"Allowing the homeowner to be in a safe environment, to still allow them to stay where they are, that's what Home Works wants to be able to achieve so they don't have to take water from kitchen to flush the toilet in the bathroom," said Chardos.
After 10 years of pulling double duty in the working world, Chardos retired to solely focus on Home Works. He's faithfully led the charge to get the homes of more than 2,000 retired and disabled homeowners back in working shape.
"His ability to motivate people with what is important and what is good has allowed the amount of work we can do," said Jim Powell, Home Works' executive director.
But you won't hear Chardos talk about the work he's done. He puts the credit elsewhere.
"We start with prayer, all of what we do is under the umbrella of prayer – and that prayer is where our energies and efforts come from," said Chardos. "It allows us to then go forth with kids who in many instances have never had a hammer in their hands. Now they're the ones who've replaced the floor, the stairs."
Those close to him say he's worked countless hours. He'd never count because his hope has always been to spotlight the youth who volunteer and connect them to an older generation.
"For 19 years, Hank has not wanted attention," said Powell. "Even today he doesn't want attention for what he does. He wants to talk about the homeowner, he wants to talk about the youth we serve and that's non-negotiable."
And Chardos says there's no time to slowdown. They have a year and a half waiting list and every build is another chance to empower youth and give back to homeowners in need.
"We want that homeowner to know that there's hope and we convey that with our hands and our hearts," said Chardos.
In addition to being named a Mungo Homes Community Builder, the Michael J. Mungo Foundation is awarding Chardos a $1,000 donation to Home Works.
Now we want to hear from you! Who do you think is making a difference in your community?