Allen Whitworth has worked on hundreds of projects as contractor, but one stands out above the rest.
Whitworth, 74, was recently put in place as the project manager for the renovation of the Faith House building on the Emmaus Homes campus. The home was in need of massive repairs — the entire rehab project is estimated to cost approximately $100,000. The Friends of Emmaus needed someone to manage the project.
For 42 years he was a general building contractor and ran Whitworth Construction Company in Washington. His company was involved in the massive growth of Washington.
Whitworth can’t even guess how many houses he built in the city. Some of the major projects he worked on were the Jefferson Colonial Apartments and the duplexes on Madison Avenue.
“I started work with another contractor, but I always wanted to be in business on my own,” he said. “It’s worked out pretty well.”
He had the credentials to lead the Faith House project.
“Tim Unnerstall asked me one day if I would be the project manager,” he said. “Knowing the people that were involved in it, I said yes. I knew it would go smooth because of the people involved.”
One of Whitworth’s tasks as project manager is finding volunteers. All of the supplies and 98 percent of the labor is being donated, according to Emmaus officials.
“I’m just the project manager,” Whitworth said. “I just got all these people to go over and work at no charge.”
Finding volunteers proved to not be much of a challenge.
“What I love about this is when people call and say, ‘Allen, why haven’t you asked me to help?’” he said. “That’s a great feeling.”
Whitworth said the volunteers are basically the best group he’s worked with — a dream team of sorts. He said people like Douglas F. Kleekamp, Michael Kleekamp and Gary Kleekamp from KBC Custom Homes Inc.; Tony Gildehaus from Gildehaus Constuction; Dean Weber and Tim Weber of Weber Brothers Construction; and Joe Kopp with S-K have been amazing.
“There’s nothing better than quality,” Whitworth said.
The crews are basically redoing the entire house.
“We’re putting new kitchen cabinets in, new doors, trim, flooring, wiring, putting (Americans With Disabilities Act) shower stalls, toilets and faucets,” Whitworth said. “We’re bringing it all up to ADA standards.”
The extensive work will transform the house for the five residents who live there, Whitworth said.
“It’s going to be like it’s a whole new home,” he said.
Whitworth had been away from construction projects during his retirement. He quickly fell back into habits.
“It sure brings back memories,” he said. “You’re on a telephone all the time.”
Whitworth recently had surgery on his right shoulder and has been forced to stay home with his wife of 54 years, Bev, to rest and recover. Confined to a recliner he rigged to work with a pull of a dog leash since his right arm couldn’t work the lever, Whitworth has been sidelined and away from the Faith House.
Before retirement, Whitworth said he would’ve waited until he was between projects to have the surgery. This time, with this crew, Whitworth said he knew he could get the shoulder fixed, get recovered and the crews working wouldn’t miss a beat.
“I knew that the people I had volunteering over there were professional people,” he said. “They could handle the job with no problem.”
Whitworth said work on the project started Feb. 1 and he hopes things are finished in 2 1/2 months. Once the project is finished, the five residents who were living in the Faith House prior to renovations will move back in.