For 23 years, Ron Gaunt has simply gone about his job, repairing and weatherizing homes across Spokane County.
As the Technical Services coordinator for SNAP Housing Improvements, Gaunt is responsible for quality control, training and project assignments involving weatherization and minor home repair. In other words, Gaunt has become this community’s “Mr. Fix It.”
Over the years, Gaunt has encountered bed bugs, moldy ceilings, attics insulated with newspaper, crumbling foundations and windows made from garbage bags. Through it all, he has maintained sincere generosity for every client while managing his own crew with the same level of consideration.
“Ron has worked in the housing industry for over 20 years,” said Kim Kreber, SNAP Energy Conservation coordinator. “During this time he has always gone above and beyond in many ways. From relating to the crew, co-workers or community partners, he treats everyone with fairness and respect.”
Earlier this month, Gaunt was recognized for his unique contributions to the field of weatherization as he was honored at the Energy OutWest (EOW) annual conference, held May 9-13 at Spokane’s Grand Hotel. Gaunt was named “Outstanding Person in Weatherization” by EOW, an organization promoting education, peer exchange and technical guidance with representatives from 14 states.
John Davies, director of the Home Improvement department at the Opportunity Council and an EOW board member, was one of many to congratulate Ron on the honor.
“The program you all have built over the years at SNAP is one of the best around,” Davies said. “I know you play a big part in keeping the trains running on time while keeping the bar for quality high. Not always an easy task.”
Ron’s job includes responding to homes when a crisis hits. After a devastating windstorm swept through the Inland Northwest last November, Gaunt knew his work was just beginning.
“It was really bad out there,” Ron said. “There were houses just devastated, trees in living rooms and people left wondering what they were going to do.”
Gaunt led the charge to restore wind-damaged homes to a livable state, replacing roofs, doors and other features. Some calls came in the middle of the night; others came from families in tears.
“Ron’s done so much to help these people,” said Michelle Christie, a Home Improvement specialist who coordinates the repairs for Ron and his crew. “He’s really gone the extra mile to ensure that things are going to be OK.”
On May 9, during an Energy OutWest luncheon, Ron’s friends and colleagues gathered in anticipation to watch Ron acknowledged for his hard work and dedication. Known for shying from the spotlight, Gaunt was in for a big surprise.
“Ron doesn’t do it for the acknowledgement,” Kreber said. “In fact, he would be embarrassed to know that I nominated him.”
Among the many SNAP staff present to watch Ron receive his award was Kristi Sherlock, SNAP’s Housing Improvements coordinator.
“I have worked with Ron for over 20 years,” Kristi said. “I am constantly amazed at his willingness to help each client – whatever it takes. He is always ready to go out to a home to fix the problem and make their lives better. I appreciate the difference he makes in each and every life. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t appreciate kindness.”
While flattered by the EOW award, Gaunt said it’s the impact on SNAP clients – not the accolades – that make his work worthwhile.
“The most rewarding part for me seems to be going home in the evening and while relaxing and reflecting back on the day, I know that, along with the help of a great bunch of people that do really great work, we made a real difference in someone’s life.”