Lessons in Service: Repairing appliances for hurricane victims is a win-win for team at Del Mar College
Article by: Mike Bratten
A group of teachers and students at Del Mar College in Texas is stepping in to make life a little easier for victims of Hurricane Harvey by repairing their damaged household appliances free of charge.
“There are a lot of disabled people with low income out there who can’t afford to get their appliances fixed,” said Tom Matula, associate professor of Air Conditioning Applied Technology at Del Mar. “Service to the community is part of our profession. We’re a community college.”
The team – five faculty members and roughly 60 students studying air conditioning, refrigeration and appliance repair – had about a dozen appliances to fix within a couple days of the project’s launch, Matula said. Eligible appliances are refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers and window AC units that were damaged due to the hurricane.
The service is offered to residents of Rockport, Ingleside, Aransas Pass and Port Aransas,
communities that were hardest hit by Harvey’s 130 mph winds on Aug. 25 and 26.
It gives me great satisfaction to do a small deed for people going through difficult times. We take these things for granted…a cold glass of ice water or refrigerated food. You don’t realize how important they are until you don’t have them.
The group is able to purchase new appliance parts through a fund set up by the DMC Foundation and supported by donations, Matula said.
Matula is working with officials in the affected areas to reach more residents and organize pickup and drop-off locations. Meanwhile, students like Chris Wyatt have been transporting appliances back and forth between the communities and Del Mar’s West Campus where they’re repaired.
“I love it,” said Wyatt, 51, an air conditioning major who plans to become an instructor. “We’re helping people who may not have any other way of getting help and we’re learning along the way. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Besides providing students with valuable, real-world experience, the project has a positive effect on recruitment, Matula said.
“A guy came in today from Aransas Pass. He saw what we’re doing on TV and said he’s going to enroll for the spring. He’s in admissions now doing his application. I expect more like him, but we’re just getting started.”
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