Eau Claire (WQOW)- Dozens of mechanical contractors and service technicians cleaned and repaired furnaces in the homes of 20 veterans Saturday for the Heats On program.
The program began in Dunn County in 2008, and this year it expanded to Eau Claire County for the first time. Everyone involved in the program is completely volunteer, and all equipment and repairs are paid for by the Local Union #434.
Terry Hayden, business manager for Central and Wisconsin's Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Technicians Local #434, has been a part of Heat's On since it's inception in 2008.
"It's a great opportunity to give back to the Chippewa Valley. In the case of serving veterans and taking care of their furnaces, we're helping out the men and women who served our country. It's really people that, if you're going to do something nice for someone, I don't know if there's anyone more deserving," said Hayden.
Most of the homes are referred to the Heat's On program by the County Veteran Service Offices. Many of them are referred because the veterans are not able to do home maintenance themselves.
Marilyn Sheetz was referred to program managers by the Minneapolis V.A. because her husband has Alzheimer's.
"For me it's a blessing because my husband isn't capable of doing things like that. I don't know anything about heating and cooling our home. I think it's just really great, and I'm sure the other families are just as appreciative because it's something that I probably would never have thought about having done," said Sheetz.
The Heat's On program also partners with UW Stout students in the construction management program who volunteer to work with the technicians, installing and repairing smoke detectors. It's a partnership unique to this local chapter of the program.