One House at a Time
by: Pat Hernandez, April 19, 2010 9:04:00 pm
This quiet southeast side neighborhood is interrupted by the sounds of an air hammer, electric saw and the commotion of workers. They're doing extensive repairs at the home of JoAnn Booth. She's an elderly woman
who lost her husband a few years back. The workers doing repairs on her home are Houston police officers and civilians from the department. The crew is headed by assistant chief Mark Curran.
"Her house needs a lot of repair. We're finding termite damage. All her siding needs to be replaced pretty much, except some in the back looks good. She's handicapped, so she gets around in a walker and what we're going to do is build two wheel chair ramps, one in the front of the house, and for fire reasons — we always build two — and we're gonna put one in the back. And so we're trying to get going as fast as we can because of the rain. So, we're trying to get this all done and then, we're gonna start the wheelchair ramp."
In addition to the new wheelchair ramps and new siding for the entire house, Chief Curran says the crew will also paint it and add landscaping.
"And then of course, its gonna take a while to clean up. So, by the time you do that, we've got about twenty ladies and gentlemen that will be out here this week. And then on Saturday is when we get some other folks out here to actually paint it. So, as you can see its five days of carpentry work, followed by one day of painting."
The effort is made possible by Rebuilding Together Houston. It's a non-profit organization that provides home repair services for low-income, elderly and sometimes disabled Houston homeowners for more than 25-years. Police officer Leo Flores is also a master carpenter who tells me he has the project finished in his head.
"My Dad taught me this as a child and he's passed and gone, but he lives within me. Because I look at this not as work, I look at it as art. I'm creating something. I'm creating a painting, but my paint brushes is wood and nails. That's the way I look at it; that's the way I like it."
The Volunteer Home Repair program is the centerpiece of Rebuilding Together Houston. It leverages volunteer labor with financial resources to deliver exterior home restoration to those who need it.