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Peoria Group Offers Free Furnace Checks for Veterans

By Anthony SanFilippo

There are never enough ways to say “thank you” to veterans of the armed services, but the Illinois Valley Fuller Center for Housing is hoping it has found another way.

As the seasons are changing, many veterans are in homes that need critical repairs, especially to the heating system that will keep them warm throughout the winter.

That’s where the Fuller Center for Housing comes in.

As they do every year at this time since its inception in 2013, Fuller is offering free or discounted fall furnace safety checks for veterans and widows of veterans who register for them.

The safety checks could be as simple as checking for tight connections or making sure there is no faulty wiring.

“When they don’t have to spend a few hundred dollars to fix something that is a huge load off of their shoulders,” Joseph Milton, Vice President of Fritch Heating and Cooling who is doing the checks in partnership with Fuller told CBS-31 in Peoria. “It’s just not the ‘Oh my God, I hope this works every single year. I hope it comes on this year.’ That’s a huge load off of their shoulders.

“It feels amazing and you can’t thank that person enough. Every time you see a veteran, you should shake their hand. You should give them a high five. You should thank them, I don’t think we do that enough and hopefully what we’re doing through the Fuller Center is kind of like a virtual handshake.”

And that is the mission of the Fuller Center, which serves veterans in the Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Tri-County area.

They partner with other companies and non-profits to help improve the existing housing stock, not just for the current homeowners, but even to help families who might have vacant properties.

“We are the only [organization] that focus solely on veterans,” Debbie Gaught, a member of the Board of Directors for the Fuller Center told CBS-31. “Now if someone is above our income guidelines, we’re not saying we won’t help that veteran, but they may pay for part of the materials. We do have a three-phase program, where there’s actually no fee, may pay half or they may pay all of it.”

And the Fuller Center doesn’t just stop at the furnace safety checks. They also offer a service for veterans and widows of veterans that assists with yard clean up during the fall, mostly raking and bagging leaves.

“It’s really not so much the gift of heat that we give people… it’s the gift of safety,” Milton said.


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