Tom Erwin: Helping handyman

Turning Point volunteer helps programs at agency flow

Tom Erwin of Cary volunteers his time as a handyman at Turning Point, a domestic violence agency in Woodstock.
Tom Erwin of Cary volunteers his time as a handyman at Turning Point, a domestic violence agency in Woodstock.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Turning Point, and Tom Erwin is one of them.

A jack of all trades, Erwin performs tasks including hanging blinds, taking out garbage and recycling, and replacing light bulbs for the Woodstock-based agency that helps victims of domestic violence.

Executive Director Jane Farmer said Erwin, 80, of Cary, is one of the major arteries that helps make the organization’s programs flow year after year. He’s saved Turning Point thousands of dollars in repairs by recognizing an issue before it becomes a problem, she said.

“Tom is very respectful and unintimidating to our clients, who may be coming from a place of fear regarding men,” Farmer said.

In 2000, Erwin retired from his job in purchasing for a manufacturing company. For about 10 years, he’s been volunteering for Turning Point, with some breaks, such as when he had heart surgery.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are “Tom Days,” Farmer said, which the staff looks forward to and appreciates.

His daughter works there, too, and helped him get started.

“She said, ‘Dad, you know, I told them there that you’re pretty handy,’” Erwin said. “So I went in and talked with them.”

Just about anything that might come up, Erwin can handle, except for heavy-duty plumbing or major electrical work.

He said he doesn’t want to get paid for his work at Turning Point – volunteering is just fine. It gives him something to do, no matter what it may be, including vacuuming or hanging a picture.

“I try to keep myself busy; I try to keep myself active,” he said.

Although he may offer them a hello, Erwin doesn’t work directly with Turning Point’s clients, but he said he believes in the organization and what it represents.

Seeing them firsthand has shown him that his time spent there is meaningful.

“It’s a very good cause,” he said. “It’s amazing how it opens your eyes. You don’t realize how much domestic violence and abuse is going on. I think a lot of people can’t see and won’t admit what’s going on.”

Erwin said he’s honored to be named an Everyday Hero.

“It’s not really something I’m asking for,” he said. “That’s not why I do what I do, but I feel special to be one of the recipients.”

The Erwin lowdown

Hometown: Cary

How does he help? Volunteers for domestic violence agency Turning Point as a jack of all trades

Age: 80

Family: Wife of 40 years, Carol, who died in 2011; five daughters, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren

Favorite TV shows: “NCIS,” “Castle,” and Perry Mason reruns

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