Creative Commons/Flickr User StriderP64.
Once the engine of America’s economy, Detroit and many of its residents fell on hard times over the last few decades. The city is rebounding, but many of its working families still struggle to meet basic needs.

A 90-year-old Detroit woman in need of hands-on help to light and warm her home got an early Christmas visit from some community “angels,” as she called them, including a pair of IBEW representatives.

“She was very grateful, very thankful,” Byron Osbern said. “We had a long talk about angels.”

Osbern and Nick Chapital, business representatives for Detroit Local 58, happily spent Friday morning, Dec. 15, replacing and repairing plugs, switches and light fixtures in the duplex where Laura McCrory has lived for 60 years.

McCrory’s needs first came to the attention of The Heat and Warmth Fund of Detroit, which learned she’d been using her oven for heat since her aged boiler broke two years ago.

THAW staff called Michigan State Rep. Henry Yanez, who spoke with Jeannette Bradshaw, Local 58’s Political Action Committee registrar, at the state capitol.  She called the local to find someone to help.

Laura McCrory’s Detroit home is brighter and warmer thanks to community volunteers, including IBEW Local 58 representatives.

Osbern and Chapital wanted to head to McCrory’s home right away, but had to settle for first thing the next morning, once they’d connected with THAW. 

The journeyman inside wireman couldn’t work on her gas-operated boiler and water heater, but found other ways to help. Half the duplex was dark. They reached for a plug that had fallen through floorboards, snaked it up and soon two lamps were brightening the living room.

They fixed light switches with bad wiring, swapped out a 4-foot fluorescent light in McCrory’s bathroom for an LED fixture, and upgraded other light bulbs. “It will be much more energy efficient and lower her power bill,” Osbern said.

THAW is raising funds to replace McCrory’s boiler and water heater, and enlisting community members to make other home repairs.  “There are so many things that have gone wrong that I hadn't even mentioned and I prayed for heat," McCrory told FOX 2 News in Detroit. "And I got so much more than heat, and I thank God."

Osbern said he’s grateful for the chance to help people like McCrory.  “If we were working in the field, we’d have a lot of these opportunities,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to represent our members this way and connect with the community.”