15 Mobile Homes Weatherized with $150,000 Grant from EnergyShare
Katie Patrick, Executive Director of Grove Christian Outreach and Joe Prescott, who recently had his mobile home renovated.


The Grove Christian Outreach Center has completed extensive critical weatherization upgrades to 15 mobile homes in James City County. The renovations were made possible by a $150,000 grant from EnergyShare, Dominion Energy’s energy assistance program. These improvements will keep 15 low-income families housed and save them each thousands of dollars on energy costs. 

“Mobile home living is the most expensive living that there is,” said Katie Patrick, Executive Director of Grove Christian Outreach. “Generally, the folks that live in mobile homes are those that are struggling to make ends meet. When trailers fall into states of disrepair, the costs to repair them are astronomical. Because there's usually some specialty sort of supplies or construction associated with mobile home living.”

Patrick says the conditions that many of the families in Grove are living in have to be seen to be believed. 

“Holes in their floors, holes in their ceilings. Plumbing held together with duct tape. Bathtubs repaired with duct tape. Several of the families that we visited were heating their homes by opening their oven and turning the oven on.”

Don Mowry is the lead contractor on the project. He says most of the beneficiaries are women between 70-90 years old whose husbands have passed on.

“The need is definitely there. There’s a lot of people that cry, who have never asked for anything. They can’t believe that these programs are out there.” 

Mowry estimates the improvements made to the trailers should last for 15 years with proper maintenance. For many of his clients, that will allow them to live out their lives in the places they call home. 

“Most of them stay in their house as long as they can. They don't want to go to nursing homes. If they can stay in there and we can make them comfortable and take care of the things around them, I think that’s a good thing.” 

Mowry says sometimes he will repair younger people’s homes and change the course of their lives. 

“We fixed one young woman’s house and every time I see her now she's going and doing something positive and different and moving in the right direction. It helps them get out of the rut that they’re in. To me, that’s cool. That’s rewarding right there.” 

One of those younger beneficiaries of the grant is Bambi “Venus” Wheeler, a single mom of 4 boys. The eldest has graduated from college and the other three are school age. After leaving a difficult relationship she was given a 50-year-old trailer by a man who said she could keep it if she could repair it in a year. One of her sons and his friends tried to make the repairs themselves but it still had myriad issues including extensive damage and holes in the roof, floors and walls, faulty wiring, a broken air conditioner and a serious bug problem. 

“I had to call the fire department to come in because I smelled smoke and saw smoke come out of the kitchen wall socket,” Wheeler said. “They said if I’d never cut that main breaker off I probably would have been in flames.”

Ultimately Wheeler says she lost custody of her kids because she had a dirty house. 

She worked with Grove Christian Outreach to secure the resources to make the critical repairs needed to her mobile home. It took 3 weeks to fix the roof, floors and seal the holes in the walls. She also had her electrical wiring replaced, a stove hookup installed and received a new air conditioner. 

The bugs are gone and Wheeler says the improvements surpassed her expectations. 

“It was shocking.” Wheeler said. “It really brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I was in a brand new home. I’m very grateful.” 

The improvements have not only made her house more comfortable but more energy efficient as well. Wheeler says she’s seen a significant drop in her electric bill.

One of Wheeler’s sons is once again living with her and playing high school football. Her brother, who has custody of her 13-year-old son, was impressed with the renovations and now allows the boy to visit his mom every other weekend. Now Wheeler says she loves keeping her home neat and even wants to start a cleaning business. 

 “Some of our most vulnerable customers in the community reside in mobile homes, said Nikki Taylor, the EnergyShare program manager. Mobile homes are often not qualified for programs out there because of the unique challenges that come with it. We were excited to be able to partner with Katie at the Grove Christian Outreach Center and D Mowry Construction to make a difference in the lives of these families through the EnergyShare program.”

There are 900 mobile homes in James City County. 700 are in the Grove neighborhood and about half of those are in need of serious repairs. 

Dominion Energy’s Grove weatherization grant was part of a larger initiative announced in late 2020. That year Dominion Energy gave $1.5 million to 13 local organizations throughout the state making energy efficiency improvements. These dollars were able to improve the living conditions of 800 Virginia residents.

This year, EnergyShare is celebrating 40 years of serving communities across the Commonwealth. Since 1982, more than 878,000 individuals and families have received assistance through the program. What started off as a heating assistance program in the Hampton Roads area, has grown into a comprehensive, year-round energy assistance program that provides energy bill assistance, free weatherization services, and outreach and education across the Commonwealth.

To learn more about the program and find out how to apply, please visit our website at www.dominionenergy.com/energyshare.