Garner Cleveland Record

Rebuilding Together gets back to work in Garner

Laura Christensen, 21, a volunteer of AmeriCorp in Brooklyn, NY paints the back of Betty Thomas’ home.
Laura Christensen, 21, a volunteer of AmeriCorp in Brooklyn, NY paints the back of Betty Thomas’ home. jalexander@newsobserver.com

Betty Thomas sat outside, a wide smile on her face, as she watched the some 25 volunteers renovate her house in the Cloverdale subdivision.

The volunteers were from AmeriCorps, which partners with Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, to help repair older homes for families who may not be able to afford it.

“I love it,” Thomas, 70, said, looking at her newly maroon-painted home.

“I’m just excited. I think this is the most awesome thing that I could be blessed with, for these volunteers to come in and be directed by Rebuilding Together.”

Thomas has lived in her home in the Cloverdale subdivision for 34 years. It’s where she raised her family.

Rebuilding Together of the Triangle partnered with the town of Garner in May to repair eight homes in the Cloverdale subdivision. The town council voted to invest $20,000 in the effort. The rest is paid for through private donations and grants.

Volunteers repair homes by doing exterior maintenance, installing new flooring, fixing windows, making homes more accessible for older residents, fixing plumbing leaks or electrical hazards, depending on the need.

Rodney Dickerson, Garner assistant town manager, said if the initiative proves to be successful then the town will invest more money.

“We’ll go out and look at the projects they’ve done and if the property owners are satisfied and if it has improved the neighborhood then that will be a good gauge,” Dickerson said. “I would say the fact that they have been successful with projects and others have inquired about it, there’s definitely a need in the community.”

Cloverdale is the second subdivision the non-profit has worked on in Garner, after repairing a few homes in Greenbrier neighborhood. Volunteers helped repair four homes Friday afternoon in Cloverdale.

“We’ll keep working over here until hopefully everyone who needs help, gets taken care of,” said Dan Sargent, executive director of Rebuilding Together of the Triangle.

Sargent said there are about six homes on the waiting list to get their homes repaired but they are looking for more applicants in the neighborhood. Sargent said the non-profit plans to do even more in Garner, with a new grant it received from Bank of America.

Each home being repaired is owner-occupied. Applicants must have lived in their homes for more than two years.

Grateful

Many of the homes in the Cloverdale subdivision were built in the early ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and the occupants have lived there since. Some of the homes have deteriorated over time.

That was the case for Thomas’ home, which had survived a few natural disasters over time. Retired now, from the state Division of Employment Security, Thomas said the repair costs she would have had to pay were overwhelming.

“As years went by, I did as much as I could when I could,” she said.

Her biggest problem was water drainage that ran beneath her home whenever it rained. It was a problem for 15 years. Now she’s getting that problem fixed finally.

Thomas said she was impressed by the project leader explaining to her what would be done.

“And when I saw all of these 20, 25 people coming, I didn’t know what to say,” Thomas said. “It was just awesome. I love what they’ve done. I love my paint. I love the building of the area in the back. All the work that has been completed, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @GarnerCleveland

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