WAYNE — When thousands of people in Wayne County went without heat or power, communities had to work together to stay warm and safe. The Charter House apartments in Wayne were no exception.
Typically housing elderly and disabled community members, the Charter House staff had to work quickly to determine how to keep their residents safe, since many were not able to relocate and wait for the storms to pass, said Pamela Hawkins, vice president of Millennia Housing Management, the housing company that owns the Charter House.
“We had to tell people they needed to come out of their apartments because they needed heat,” Hawkins said. “A lot of these residents don’t necessarily have anywhere else they can go, so we had to take care of them a make sure they were all okay.”
Hawkins said the building chose to purchase a generator a few years ago, not expecting it would ever need to be used for more than a couple days. By the end of it, Charter House residents were without power for almost one full week.
The generator was able to power the community space on the first floor, Hawkins said, which included ample seating areas as well as a small kitchen.
During the week, Charter House staff members cooked three meals a day for everyone in the building, and the food was mainly donated from residents that knew items would go bad if they were not used.
Hawkins said these meals were not simple sandwiches, but hot meals such as eggs, chicken nuggets, a pork roast and even dessert most nights.
The Charter House residents did receive some meals ready to eat from the National Guard, but Hawkins said the residents were taken care of so the MREs should be given to those who need them more.
Hawkins also said she was able to receive food from Bill Likens, director of outreach ministries at the Cabwaylingo Presbyterian Chapel and manager of the Dunlow Community Center who also runs the community food bank at least once a month.
She said he provided foods such as spaghetti, peanut butter, nutrition bars and more, and she is very thankful.
The power going out was not all bad, Hawkins said, as it did give residents a chance to socialize safely more than they had in the previous months.
“People would leave their doors propped open to allow some heat in, so it was like living in a dorm room,” she said. “You could walk by and talk to people, and we of course encouraged everyone to still wear their masks when they were outside of their homes and not eating, but they were able to talk with each other and get to know each other more than they have pretty much in the last year.”
Millennia Housing Management staff member Valerie Jerome also released a blog post regarding the quick responses to the power outage, and she thanked all of the staff members who helped keep everyone safe.
“Thanks to our dedicated property management and support staff, not only were the needs of residents met, but almost everyone remained in high spirits during the outage,” Jerome said. “It was a true display of community as staff, residents, and partners all pitched in to serve.”