We, Mountain Projects: Vivian Bumgarner

When Vivian Bumgarner arrived at Mountain Projects 36 years ago, the first impression she made was of a willingness to roll up her sleeves and get right to work.

The Executive Director at the time, George Carpenter, recruited her from a landscaping crew.

“Can you read a tape measure?” he asked. She said she could, and before she knew it she was measuring and cutting plexiglass for Paul Tapp’s weatherization and rehab crew.

“Right after Paul was hired, the two of us tackled cleaning out the foyer in the former Mountain Projects building on Old Balsam Road,” says Bumgarner. “It was a mess, as there was insulation, bees, trash and debris everywhere. It took us about three days to do it, but we got it cleaned.”

Years later, Tapp told her that after that project, he knew she’d be a huge asset to the organization. Now Vivian is Mountain Projects’ Housing Rehabilitation/Weatherization Manager. Her unit served 91 families last fiscal year.

“I love helping people with their homes,” she says. “We weatherize homes, making their homes warmer, help them with roof repairs, water and well system, electrical repairs, handicap ramps and so forth.”

The repairs her crew perform are largely for elderly, disabled, and low income clients, and help them stay in their homes longer and with a greater quality of life.

“One of my best memories was of two little elderly ladies in Canton,” says Bumgarner. “They didn’t have a bathroom, only an outhouse that they had used all their lives. We did lots of work on the home and built a bathroom with running water. Later, when we went for an inspection, this little lady grabbed our inspector by the sleeve for a full bathroom tour, complete with flushes of the toilet.”

“She was so excited to have a bathroom. No longer did they have to go outside in the middle of the night, in freezing weather, rain or snow. Now they had the luxury that most of us do. This is why I do what I do!”

Bumgarner grew up in a hard-working household. 

“We had to help with cutting wood, working on cars, running cattle or just whatever was needed,” she says, “so I was used to working outdoors in the rain, snow or sunshine.” 

“I feel like I might have lucked up on getting this job,” Vivian says. “But I have worked very hard to get where I am today.”

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