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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Company starts fund to help uninsured homeowners

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jason E. Silvers/Tribune photo Seth Weedham, Phil Gonzalez and Deserie Coose of Source One Restoration
When the April 7 hailstorm battered Fort Scott, local businessman Phil Gonzalez said he knew a lot of the people affected by the storm probably did not have insurance and that a lot of them were elderly.

Gonzalez, owner of Source One Restoration, decided to initiate a Community Emergency Material Repair Fund to help elderly and uninsured residents with repair bills from the storm.

Gonzalez said he discussed the matter with his pastor, Rev. Scott Moore at First Church of the Nazarene, because one of the things he said is a priority at his church is looking after the elderly.

"I kind of wanted to set the precedent and initiate going into this," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez told Fort Scott city commissioners in mid-April he was willing to donate 5 percent of his company's net profits to buy materials for qualified applicants to repair their property.

He said he discussed his plans with his pastor, City Manager Dave Martin and Craig Campbell, leader of the Good Neighbor Action Team (GNAT).

"They all thought it was a pretty good idea," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was upfront with the commissioners, admitting he stood to gain a lot of business from the aftermath of the storm, but wanted to help in some way.

"Source One Restoration is going to be making a lot of money from this storm and we just want to give back to the community," Gonzalez said.

Commissioners approved Gonzalez's idea and decided to have the Good Neighbor Action Team monitor the funds and determine eligible recipients.

"The idea is to put it in your hands so other local contractors will get on board as well," Gonzalez said. "We wanted the city to manage the funds so it would be transparent and everybody's accountable."

He said he wanted GNAT to get involved for administrative purposes and to determine who really needed the assistance.

"They already have a system in place for that," Gonzalez said. "They were also going to coordinate with various church groups in town to donate a labor force. The contractors--in my vision--would provide the means, so far as capital goes, the city would distribute the funds and the GNAT team would process everything and put it into effect basically."

Gonzalez said he hoped that other contractors would also get on board with the program and contribute a portion of their profits as well.

"Initially, I started talking to a few and I had some interests, but nobody has really come forward," Gonzalez said. "Every company is in business to make a profit, but we tithe to our church and we give back to our community as well," Gonzalez said.

He said he has talked to other leaders in his company and have decided to include 5 percent of the net profits from other Source One job sites in Omaha, Neb., Springfield, Mo., and Wichita.

"We are going to go ahead and do this across the board," Gonzalez said. "Why limit it now. It doesn't make sense."

He said he has no predetermined timeline for the length of the project.

"It's up in the air," Gonzalez said. "Once I go ahead and commit to something, I'll probably stick with it unless I see it's not being effective. One contractor is not going to be effective. It's going to take a half dozen or a dozen to really make something happen. Even if we make $200,000 profit this year, that's still only $10,000. That doesn't go far. But if we get 10 guys like that, then you have a hundred grand to work with."

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