A plumber is currently going viral for his beautiful mission: helping the elderly and vulnerable by fixing their plumbing free of charge.
While every person in a community could use a little help from neighbors and friends, we all know that those who need it the most are the elderly and people with disabilities. In fear of being viewed as a burden, these people seldom ask for help even if they need it.
A plumber in the British town of Burnley named James Anderson knows this all too well. That’s because he recently fixed an elderly woman’s broken boiler without making her pay a single penny.
His kind act is being lauded online after his bill of £0 sent to the 91-year-old woman with leukemia was shared on Facebook by the woman’s daughter, Christine Rowlands. The bill came with a message saying: “No charge for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable a possible.”
James, who is originally from Liverpool, insists that the customer will have “free plumbing for life.”
As it turns out, the plumber isn’t new to doing acts of kindness such as this. Ever since he transformed his plumbing business into a community for vulnerable people, he says that he has assisted thousands of individuals – 2,389 people since March 2017, to be exact.
The inspiration for starting his company, DEPHER, came after a customer reached out to him for a second opinion. He found that the elderly man was going to be charged more than £5,000 for a new boiler when all he really needed was a simple part replacement.
“It got me thinking about other elderly and vulnerable people — we need to do something more to help the people who need it most,” James said in a phone interview.
“A lot of elderly and disabled people don’t like asking for assistance and if they can’t afford something like fixing the boiler, they might not do it and get into trouble. We are there to take that worry away,” he added.
James is well aware that even if he wanted to, he couldn’t always provide free service if the funding wasn’t there. He admitted that at times, it had been a “struggle”.
His non-profit relies mostly on donations and crowdfunding to support the service. However, James has already accumulated around £8,000 in debt from running the service. He assures that everything is under control though, saying that he is slowly paying it off by making monthly £100 installments to the bank.
But even when the funding is running dry, he still offers a 25% discount.
“As long as I have enough money to fill up the tank in my car, I will be there to try and help the people who need it,” James said.
Christine, the daughter of the woman he helped, described James as an “angel dressed as a plumber.”
She told CNN that she met James when her mother’s boiler broke and they needed someone who could fix it at a reduced cost.
“James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing,” she said.
Though he had gained internet stardom because of his kind act, James refuses to take all the credit, saying that his actions are “a community effort”. Others may wonder what the plumber gets from all these selfless deeds and put simply, James says it makes him feel good inside.
“It makes me feel human, humble and a little giddy inside… I want to expand this service across the country. I will never give up the fight,” he said.
James hopes to expand the services they offer beyond Burnley, and the attention brought by the viral receipt could be of great help.
“I’ve got other plumbers… offering help. My hope is to get Depher national, in every city and town,” James said.
You may contribute to DEPHER’s crowdfunding HERE.
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Featured COMMENT regarding this story:
“Your story of James Anderson, the caring plumber who charged $0 for repairing an elderly lady’s boiler really was a pleasure to read. I am 63,also a plumber, semi-retired, and did either a large discount, or if the job took all of 10 minutes, no charge.
My boss never gave me a problem, and he, having an ailing parent, truly understood how much our clients appreciated it. So hands up to you, James, you are setting a great example for our fellow plumbers. Our job is extremely hard, and dangerous at times, giving our services to the elderly is something they truly appreciate.” — Bruce Drury