Hope Haven, the nonprofit addiction-recovery facility that houses 160 homeless people, faced a huge dilemma last week.
During a routine survey of its gas lines, Piedmont Natural Gas workers found leaks in the vicinity of Hope Haven on North Tryon Street.
The more they looked to isolate the leaks, the more they realized they weren’t coming from their own pipes, but pipes that go from the meter into the facility.
So the fix would be Hope Haven’s responsibility.
They got an estimate of $70,000 from a private contractor. It’d take two weeks, cut off gas to the furnace, water heater, kitchen and laundry, and force 150 residents to be relocated to a hotel.
“For a nonprofit like Hope Haven that was devastating news, especially in this economy,” said Melissa Thompson, the facility’s vice president for public affairs and outreach. “We have to be really conscious of where our money goes.”
As it turns out, they didn’t need to fret. Piedmont came to their rescue, offering to make the repairs and additional improvements – and the utility would absorb the $30,000 that it ultimately cost to do the work.
A crew of eight to 10 workers labored from last Thursday virtually non-stop through Sunday to make the repairs. By Monday, the gas was back on and Hope Haven’s residents were back home.
Instead of replacing the pipes – which would have required digging up parts of the parking lot – Piedmont installed plastic piping into the existing steel pipes to seal most of the leaks, said Piedmont spokesman David Trusty. They also added additional meters that makes the gas distribution more efficient.
“We felt like it was the appropriate thing to do,” Trusty said. “We felt that $70,000 for a nonprofit in this economic environment – that was a mountain for them.
“We had the resources. The equipment. The expertise. We were able to do it faster and less expensive, with less inconvenience for the residents.”
The public has jumped in before to help Hope Haven.
Last year, it faced paying $100,000 to replace a badly leaking roof. The community responded with donations.
“The community is such an asset to us,” Thompson said. “We are so appreciative of what the Piedmont guys did for our residents. In the beginning, it was such a mess. It turned into such a miracle.
“It shows the importance of collaboration.”