Rebuilding a community
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Sep 16, 2013, 12:36
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Volunteers from the First Baptist Church showed up to paint and landscape a home in B Village.
HOPEWELL — As a cool breeze swept through on a sunny morning in Hopewell, Roberta Jamison stood in her front yard joined by her family admiring the efforts of a group of volunteers who joined together to paint, caulk and repair her home on Fourth Avenue.
“I’m truly blessed to have” these individuals “come out and make my house beautiful,” Jamison said with a smile. “I truly thank them ... and may God be with all of them.”
Her house was chosen by Rebuilding Together Tri-Cities, a nonprofit organization that serves the Tri-City region through charitable home and community repair, as one of many projects to be completed on Saturday.
Jamison, who works at the John Randolph Medical Center, has lived in Hopewell all of her life, and used to live in the neighborhood behind the Hopewell News/News-Patriot, before eventually settling in her current residence in the B Village within the past few years.
For many people, the weekend is a time spent avoiding the concept of work and finding comfort in the world of personal relaxation. The opposite was the case in Hopewell where individuals from Rebuilding Together Tri-Cities, Evonik, Honeywell, the First Baptist Church and the Virginia Housing Development Authority and others collaborated to bring new life to several properties over the weekend, including multiple houses in B Village and the City Point Park.
The City of Hopewell previously awarded Rebuilding Together Tri-Cities a $15,000 Community Development Block Grant to spend towards property repairs, including installing storm doors, painting and refurbishing household exteriors, landscaping and certain plumbing and kitchen repairs necessary to keep homes up to city code.
Barbara Mait, executive director of Rebuilding Together Tri-Cities, said that they worked with the city planning department to identify neighborhoods that are in need of revitalization, after which they determined that B Village was one such neighborhood. This is the second year that RTTC has done work in the neighborhood, and Mait said they hope to continue doing renovations on homes in B Village for years to come in an effort to allow all eligible homeowners to apply for the opportunity.
There is an application process that includes several qualifications to determine which households will receive assistance.
“You have to own your home, you have to live in the house, you have to be income-qualified and you have to be current under real estate taxes,” Mait said.
After looking through applications, a contractor is sent out to the properties to assess whether or not the houses are eligible, Mait said.
“Some houses are beyond the scope of the work we can do, meaning there’s so much extensive work that [needs to be done]. There are some times we have to turn people away, but in most cases we can come in and make the house safe, warm and dry,” she said.
RTTC can only do so much work allowed by each year’s available funding, based on donations from individuals and companies as well as certain funding received from the cities.
Evonik Industries funded all of the repairs made to Jamison’s home on Fourth Avenue, Honeywell did the same for City Point Playground and the Virginia Housing Development Authority paid for the costs of fixing up another house in the neighborhood.
Kevin Keller, plant manager of Honeywell in Hopewell, showed up to take part in the renovations to the City Point playground, which included painting benches, fence posts, picnic tables, swing sets, as well as some additional landscaping to the park.
Keller explained that Honeywell had been approached by Rebuilding Together Tri-Cities about taking part in a community project which they amiably opted to do. They looked at a list of potential projects and thought that the City Point Park was a good choice.
“That’s a perfect match for us because they’re our neighbors directly connected to the plant, so we should reach out and do things in that community,” Keller said.
After several hours of hard work, Keller was pleased with the outcome.
Volunteers worked meticulously all day on Saturday making repairs to Roberta Jamison’s house on Fourth Avenue.
“I think it [turned out] great. It’s a beautiful park, a very nice park. ... It’s a little jewel back here,” he said.
Keller believes that it is crucial as a company to coexist within the community that you operate.
“This is an industrial town and the community is very supportive of the industry and I think we have a great relationship and we want to continue to have a great relationship and I think part of that is us giving back to the community and helping out how we can and this is one way we do that,” Keller said.