Editor's Note: This article was first published in the June edition of the Tremont Tribune, out now.
|Volunteers from Rebuilding Together NYC repair homes on Bronx Park Avenue and East 178th Street, part of the nonprofit’s “Neighborhood Rebuilding Day.” (Photo by F.G. Pinto)|
By FAUSTO GIOVANNY PINTO
They came in the early morning in droves brandishing tool belts, saws and a dumpster. Before most people were up they were busy hammering, painting, and repairing in an all-day extreme remodeling session.
The volunteer handymen and women came to be part of Rebuilding Together NYC’s annual Neighborhood Rebuilding day, in which local homeowners received repairs at no cost. This was the first time the event was held in the Bronx.
“We weren’t sure what we were getting into, but it’s exciting, it’s so much fun,” said Cristin McComell, 28, a service manager at Wells Fargo, as she painted a fresh coat of white paint on an old wall. Originally from California, McComell heard about the program through a community service leader at Wells Fargo.
The event was held on East178th Street between Morris Park Avenue and Bronx Park Avenue. Rebuilding Together NYC sponsored the event in conjunction with Shawmut Design and Construction, Wells Fargo, and State Farm. Workers from each organization volunteered their time to help make the repairs.
Rebuilding Together New York City is a non-profit organization that, in partnership with the community, rehabilitates the houses of low-income homeowners.
Matthew Lang, the group’s executive director, was on hand acting as master workman handing out orders. Lang partnered with Community Board 6 to find a location and group of homeowners to participate in the event.
Juan Rosario, a State Farm agent who recently opened a branch at 538 E. Tremont Ave., came as way to introduce himself and give back to his new locale, he said.
“These are the types of things we need, [helping] one family at a time,” Rosario said.
He was assigned to work on the house of Rafael Alvarez, whose home received a slew of repairs, including a new miniature garden in the front yard. The work, Alvarez estimated, saved him over $5,000 in expenses.
Another homeowner, Theresa Rodriguez, 53 who had been living in her house since 1990, had recently fallen on hard times, she said.
Rodriguez found out about the program from her neighbor, whose house was also being renovated that day. The volunteers replaced lights in her living room that didn’t work in her, patched a hole in her attic, remodeled her bathroom and installed new carpeting on her stairs.
“This is a big help, I really appreciate it,” said Rodriguez. “I didn’t know there was such an organization that could help without any cost.”