An Enduring Call to Serve

Warm NC

In 1996, hurricanes Bertha and Fran devastated homes and lives in the Wilmington, N.C., area. Called by faith to serve, WARM NC (Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry) volunteers began to repair the homes of low-income and elderly storm victims who struggled to recover in the aftermath.

As this work began, an even greater disaster was revealed: substandard, unhealthy, and dangerous housing conditions that pre-dated storm damages.

In response, WARM NC expanded its construction capacities and connected affected homeowners to vital community services and supports. These resources empowered residents to remain self-sufficient and to unlock the power of home ownership for long-term economic mobility.

Living in a home built by her late father, lifelong Carolina Beach resident Kristen Smith could not afford to make needed repairs to her roof, kitchen and bathroom plumbing, and insulation. These issues threatened her health daily and may have forced her to relocate from her beloved family home.

“Daddy built it in 1947. But when he died, I could not do it. I am on disability, I was overloaded and I did not know what to do,” says Kristen. Through her local church, Kristen shared her plight with WARM NC. “You guys [WARM NC] came in, and fixed it,” she recalls with a gracious smile.

Today, WARM NC has grown and serves the needs of low-income and elderly community members from across seven counties who face critical housing challenges like those Kristen confronted. “We’ve seen homeowners who faced choices between housing repair or medical care, housing repair or food,” says Kim Gore, Director of Homeowner Services. Describing the works of volunteers as acts of faith, Gore says, “part of church is going out and doing purposeful work, outside of the four walls.”

“There are people out there that love other people and are willing to help. There is... hope. Yes.”

Kristen, WARM NC participant

Warm NC participant

“One thing that WARM NC and The Duke Endowment have in common is interest in innovation. It’s wonderful to have that kind of trust as we’ve been able to try new things. We wouldn’t be in seven counties now if we were afraid to try,” says Executive Director J.C. Lyle.

“It’s not just about the home. It’s not just about the structure. It’s about impacting people’s lives in ways that you cannot even imagine,” concludes Lyle.

As of 2023, WARM NC volunteers and contractors have made urgent safety and health-related repairs for over 2,000 homeowners in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, and Pender counties, some of the poorest counties in North Carolina.

“There are people out there that love other people and are willing to help,” Kristen says. “There is...hope. Yes.”

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Warm NC neighbors