Organizer: Rebuilding Together in Springfield
Date: 04.26.14, 08:00AM – 04.26.14, 04:00PM ET
Location:Pendleton Avenue & Pickett Place, Springfield, MA
Sponsor:Rebuilding Together in Springfield
One thousand volunteers will unite on April 26, National Rebuilding Day, to revitalize an entire city block in Springfield – part of an extraordinary communal effort to revitalize one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, and ultimately help the ‘City of Homes’ re-emerge as a vibrant urban hub of New England.
On April 26, volunteers at Rebuilding Together’s GreenNFit Neighborhood Rebuild will repair and landscape 25 homes; clean debris from vacant lots; spruce up a municipal park; make improvements to the local HeadStart facility; and prepare the Tyler Street Community Garden for spring planting.
Supported by the contributions of 80 sponsors and donors, this effort will help make homes safe and healthy for their low-income owners and their families.
The April 26 GreenNFit event celebrates the 22nd Annual National Rebuilding Day, when 187 Rebuilding Together affiliates around the country will bring 50,000 volunteers together to work on 3,000 affiliate-led projects in the United States.
GreenNFit 2014’s scope of work includes full conversion of home heating from oil to natural gas; installation of a photovoltaic panels and a new solar-powered hot water heater for one homeowner family; new, energy-efficient roofs, windows, and doors; insulation and weatherization; interior and exterior painting; vinyl siding; mold remediation; pest control; kitchens and baths with water-saving fixtures; ‘Age in Place’ modifications; electrical and plumbing repairs; smoke & carbon monoxide detector installation; and yard cleanup, fencing, landscaping, and planting of shrubs and flowers.
These efforts will help homeowners save money on home repair; decrease their energy bills; remove environmental health hazards; and improve families’ safety in their homes and in the neighborhood, which is one of the poorest in the nation.
This amazing one-day event will allow you the opportunity to witness community revitalization personally, and to meet Rebuilding Together’s homeowner families, volunteers, supporters, staff, and board of directors.
The April 26 event is Year Two of ‘GreenNFit: 10 in 10,’ Rebuilding Together’s master plan to revitalize Springfield’s Old Hill Neighborhood and preserve affordable homeownership by rehabilitating the housing stock and simultaneously improving parks, non-profit facilities, and community spaces. ‘10 in 10’ began with last year’s successful rehab of 25 homes on Tyler Street, and carries on this year on Pendleton Avenue, the next block over, said Rebuilding Together Executive Director Colleen Loveless.
One of Rebuilding Together’s Pendleton Avenue homeowners is Ruel Jackson:
Mr. Jackson, 78, takes pride in working – whether he was making boxes, polishing golf clubs, or painting at the MassMutual Center. So after a heart attack and stroke a few years ago, it was hard to accept that his working days, and his daily 3-mile walks, were over. And he couldn’t keep up with maintenance at his home on Pendleton Avenue.
Ruel, the eldest of eight, emigrated from Jamaica. He settled in Springfield, MA, and saw that his family would be happier here. He scrupulously saved his money and helped them access the American Dream. At one point Ruel shared his house with 11 other family members, all working and saving up for their own homes.
“We’ve had a really nice life. My parents worked hard to give us a good life,” said Heather Phillips, 47, Ruel’s daughter, who moved back home when her dad fell ill.
As Heather grew up, though, Pendleton Avenue devolved. One night, a gunfight between police and the perp they were chasing left the Jacksons a scary souvenir: a bullet lodged in a bedroom wall. The Jacksons covered it with spackle and went on with life.
These days, the neighborhood is bouncing back. Working families who respect their property and neighborhood have bought homes up and down the block, said Ruel.
On April 26, Rebuilding Together volunteers and skilled workers will repair Ruel’s kitchen floor and exterior siding; paint his house; replace doors, windows, and gutters; complete masonry work to fix the front steps; and install grab bars in the bathroom.
Rebuilding Together’s work to repair homes and spruce up their street, and others in the Old Hill Neighborhood, is a welcome revitalization that their neighbors, family, and community are grateful for, Heather said.
“I’m really glad about everything that’s going on. I’m very thankful for everybody that’s doing something for me – God bless all of you,” Ruel said.