Habitat partners with volunteers to renovate 11 homes in city
by Chris Norwood
TALLADEGA — Habitat For Humanity is having its national leadership conference at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center for the fifth year in a row, and this time they decided to do something special while they were here.

The local Habitat for Humanity partnered with Americorps volunteers to renovate 11 homes on Westwood Circle, where there is currently one Habitat house.

Local president Barbara Dunn said Wednesday’s project was part of the “Brush with Kindness” program.

“We’re doing everything from home repairs to screening in porches and replacing columns, painting, and replacing rotten wood. We’ve only got one day to fix up 11 houses, so we’re still going to need volunteers to finish up after today.”

Habitat member Lester Rawls said the crews were also helping to clean up some overgrown vegetation in yards on the street.

The Americorps volunteers are “mostly young people, and they’ve been working really hard,” Dunn said. Between 45 and 50 volunteers were working at any given time, she said.

Walter Fields of Habitat International said the volunteers had come from as far away as California as well as from neighboring states. “They’re doing lots of good work,” he said. “I’m proud of them, they’re really working hard. But we’re still going to need more volunteers to get everything done.”

The Westwood Circle neighborhood was chosen after someone broke into the then unfinished Habitat House there and stole the air conditioner after stripping the copper wiring out of the walls.

“That really sparked our interest in this neighborhood,” Dunn said.

Graham Green, the senior specialist for Habitat for Humanity International’s National Service Program, said volunteers working in various communities had come from 34 states and Washington, D.C. That includes 30 Americorps members working on Westwood Circle.

“Just about all of them are returning volunteers,” Green said. “Most of them are in their second or third year, and you can volunteer for up to five years. So some of them might be coming back.”

The city of Talladega and Shocco Springs “have been great partners for us,” he continued. “And we’ve been blessed with good weather. Barbara and the affiliate institute have been great, it’s truly a partnership.”

”Everyone that we approached was willing to assist,” Dunn said. “And I would like to thank Jeraldine Reynolds and Phetis Porter for manning the first aid station for us.”

Daniel Gamble of Chattanooga was supervising the crew at one of the houses. “We took out the old studs and baseboard and the old porch screen, painted the foundation, shutters and trim, then replaced the wood, put in new studs and a new frame for the porch,” he said.

Next door, a volunteer from Jacksonville, Fla., and his crew were putting on new paint, beautifying the yard, adding a crawl space door, putting up new siding and porch posts and were getting ready to replace the gutters and rotten corner strips, and removed the outdoor carpeting. He is currently in his second year volunteering with Americorps, having served previously in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

A little further up the street, George Montgomery was working with a crew from Mount Olive Baptist Church.

They were painting the foundation and front and side porches, replacing porch posts and putting up new posts on the carport.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.

© 2012