KHQA Hometown Hero builds new life for Northeast, MO residents


More than 400 Northeast Missouri families are on standby to get their homes weatherized - a NECAC program to renovate a home to make it more energy efficient.

It's a program that helps LaGrange, MO resident Mark VanOrder who says no one feels pain "until you break your neck"

"I was pushing the trash can, I lost my balance, my knee hit the lead and the momentum I had put me towards the trash can and I hit the side of the can with my face and in return that broke my neck."

His fall happened on Halloween Night 2014. Now paralyzed he can't work or help maintain his home

Cue Mike Heidecker with NECAC. He said Mark's home is a rare case.

"He had a lot of open walls and ceilings that let a lot of heat out," Heidecker explained.

That's why it got bumped up on the waiting list. More than 400 families are on the waiting list for NECAC's weatherization program right now. The agency spends more than one-million dollars a year to help people like Mark.

"Didn't have the money coming in like you used to and sometimes you gotta have help," VanOrder explained.

From cutting to drilling dry wall in place, the notion to measure twice, cut once keeps crews efficient too.

NECAC's weatherization program is year round and serves 12 Tri-State counties thanks to federal funding.

"It's why I come into work," Heidecker explained. "It's hard to miss because you know you're missing opportunities because everyone needs help."

NECAC officials said do not let the waiting list scare you from applying if you need assistance. The agency averages more than 500 projects in a year.

A Hero on Site

Speaking of Heidecker, he is your latest KHQA Hometown Hero.

He was nominated for his work on the project you just learned about and others.

We would like to thank Hilbing Autobody and Peters Heating and Air Conditioning for making this possible.

Heidecker has worked with NECAC for almost 20 years.

He first began as a carpenter but says the work he does now with NECAC is the most rewarding work of his life.

"All I got is wow. That's pretty much it," Heidecker said.
"He really shows the rest of us how we can live our lives," Brent Engel with NECAC explained. "It's always better to help someone else out. Your life improves when you're helping someone else out. He lives up to the community action motto of helping people and changing lives."

If you know someone who you think deserves this recognition, you can click here to fill out the online application.

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