Spiller aids elderly with smoke alarm install

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Andrew Spiller began his Free Will Ministry 12 years ago as away to encourage and minister to the elderly, sick and disabled.Now, in a way, he is working to protect them too.

Spiller said after years of visiting homes on a regular basis onThursdays to pray, sing, teach Bible lessons, and run errands forthe elderly, he noticed a critical need for smoke alarms in thehomes of the people he visited.

“They can get them from the AARP or TRIAD,” he said. “But thoseorganizations don’t install them.”

So Spiller added a new facet to his ministry. He installs andchecks smoke detectors in the homes of the people he visits on aweekly basis.

“Winter is the peak season, and they need something to warn themif there’s smoke in their homes,” he said. “So many people don’thave working smoke detectors these days.”

Spiller, a former school teacher, set to work getting smokedetectors donated for the ministry. He found some businesses whosaw the importance of his mission, and his smoke detector ministrywas born.

“By their supporting this cause, it has made a few more liveshappier and calmer,” Spiller said.

After Wal-Mart and Perkins Ace Hardware agreed to supply Spillerwith the needed equipment, he began putting the smoke alarms in thehomes he visited. Mary Jane Dillon, who Spiller affectionatelycalls “Mama,” said he has been a real blessing in her life.

“He’s been a blessing to us ever since he got started,” Dillonsaid as she watched him install a new smoke detector in her livingroom. “Any time you carry the gospel, you’re a preacher.”

Spiller said his ministry began because his 31 years of teachingshowed him that some people need hope. He began his nursing homeministry in 1995, in addition to visiting the sick, elderly.

There are those, he said, who don’t even have people who visitthem or care for them on a regular basis.

“Some people don’t have anyone to visit them,” he said. “So Ihave assigned days that I go visit the nursing homes and I teachBible classes there.”

He said the Bible classes he teaches have an open-forum feeling,where nursing home residents can volunteer to speak, sing, or prayas well.

“We ask for volunteers to pray and sing,” he said. “That waythey can feel like they’re a part of things.”

But his ministry into people’s homes continues.

Spiller said he enjoys the interaction and fellowship with thepeople he visits, but that his attention was called to the need forfire safety because his son, Andre, is a fire inspector for theBrookhaven Fire Department.

“Some people can’t get smoke detectors for themselves, and a lotof people don’t have them at all,” he said. “It’s an importantthing to help with their safety and welfare, and that’s why I doit.”