Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church


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Palmer Place Series: Chapter 5, The Maintenance Crew

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An essential part of the Palmer Place Apartment ministry, the Maintenance team works behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly for residents during their stay. The team attends to all things above and beyond routine maintenance that’s provided by the apartment complex, ensuring that guests have a comfortable and convenient place to stay in the midst of their stressful medical treatments.

Tasks range from installing ceiling fans and large screen TVs to cleaning and repairing vacuum cleaners and broken lamp fittings. The team also keeps internet connections updated and running, which allows some caregivers to continue to work from their new “home away from home” in Houston. Every apartment is thoroughly checked out between guests leaving and new ones checking in and any repairs or replacements are made in the short window of time the apartments are vacant. 

Les Douthwaite found his way to the ministry when the Way Station stopped serving breakfast and he was looking for other opportunities to serve; he took over the maintenance job from Palmer parishioner Bill Hass, who had served in the capacity for many years. “This volunteer opportunity appealed to me as I am a keen do-it-yourselfer,” said Les, who describes his time on the team as “long, enjoyable and satisfying.” 

Jeff Dieter more recently joined the team after seeing an announcement in the Palmer bulletin looking for volunteers. “It appealed to my DIY genes and seemed like a good way to offer my skills,” he said. 

Although the maintenance team doesn’t interact too much with the clients directly, they hear their stories from other Apartment Ministry team members, and they know that they are making a difference for which the guests are grateful.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians tells us we are all many parts which make up the one Body of Christ…, and the ministry, as described by Jeff, is an inspiring example of the hand holding the hammer that holds together and sustains a community.

“In a world that seems to be increasingly selfish and self-destructive, I want to help change it,” he said. “Christ’s message of loving your neighbor resonates strongly with me. If we can help others in need, we can make a difference. It may not be a huge difference, but a lot of small differences can make huge ones. And I want to do my part.”