Pay It Forward to take on two projects

Published 6:40 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

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Pay It Forward’s Gina Grundmeier knew this year would be special.

After nine projects of bathroom and life renovations, the philanthropic organization was looking at its 10th project, but they were also looking at a long list of potential projects.

“There were just two that had such a strong need,” Grundmeier said adding with a chuckle. “I went to Todd (Grundmeier) and asked him if he loved me.”

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Earlier this week, Pay It Forward announced that this year wouldn’t just be one project, but two as volunteers will focus on renovating bathrooms for Joel Henricks and Cassie Konken and her four children.

Normally, Pay It Forward projects take about a week, but the addition of a second project will alter the time table somewhat. Both projects will launch simultaneously on March 13, followed by a reveal of the Konken project that Friday as usual.

However, the Henricks project is such a mammoth project that it will most likely require a few days in the following week to complete.

“Basically we need to re-plumb his house,” Grundmeier said. “It’s a second story bathroom. When we talk about it being so intense, it’s because his is a second story bathroom. Those are excruciating to do.”

Henricks’ bathroom is in such a state that he is forced to use an-open air, non-heated shower set-up in his half-basement.

The main bathroom is a cramped affair with both leaking and pipe-clogging issues that not only make the bathroom unusable, but has resulted in water damage.

Henricks has a job for Cedar Valley Services and has lived in the 1930s home since purchasing it in 1998. Despite being able to do what he can, budgeting for repairs has been difficult.

“When we walked through the house we actually saw what was going on and realized how great the need was,” Grundmeier said. “That’s when his dad told me had it not been for us coming (Joel) was going to have to leave his home.”

Meanwhile, Konken’s project is a little more straightforward, but just as important. Cassie and her four children — ages seven, six, four and two (at the end of the month) — all live in a house with  just one bathroom.

Konken and her sister inherited the house from their mother, who passed  away due to cancer. It had received an earlier remodel, but flaws in how the project was originally done has lead to deteriorating situation to the point that water leakage is getting into the tiles and creating mold issues.

“Underneath they are starting to get structural damage,” Grundmeier said. “It’s not just about the four kids. This is their only bathroom. That’s a lot of traffic.”

It’s also in a state that a pair of pliers has to be used in turning the shower on and off. Konken’s mother was looking at getting repairs done, but once the cancer diagnosis was made, repairs were put on hold.

“She’s doing what she can and they are making do,” Grundmeier said. “She’s not one that’s going to ask for help. It’s a fine example that she can definitely use the help.”