Garner: Community

Home improvements, new playground spruce up Greenbrier

Rich Sinclair of Rebuilding Together buries the base of a chain ladder in freshly-poured cement as dozens of volunteers work to build a playground in the Greenbrier neighborhood.
Rich Sinclair of Rebuilding Together buries the base of a chain ladder in freshly-poured cement as dozens of volunteers work to build a playground in the Greenbrier neighborhood. kjahner@newsobserver.com

In April, Sue Rhodes broke her hip. The elderly longtime Greenbrier resident fell on her back stoop, a tiny concrete space with two steep steps.

Last week, a team of Lowe's volunteers, coordinated by a nonprofit group called Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, built her a new porch, one accessed by four shallow, wide, easy-to-navigate steps.

The home improvement project was one of several in the neighborhood over a two-day period during which a new playground was also built thanks to the effort of a three-organization partnership.

“I feel wonderful about it. It’s really nice. It’s a lot more space,” said Rhodes, who first moved to Greenbrier into a house her husband designed in 1959.

Rebuilding Together works to find neighborhoods where they can make an impact. Lowe’s Home Improvement partners by funding projects and providing labor in the form of volunteer employees. For Greenbrier, more than 100 volunteers and more than $100,000 of value were committed to improving the neighborhood.

“We do something at every store called Lowe’s Heroes project each year,” said Garner store manager Jeff Bass. “But something on this scale doesn’t come along for each store.”

Lowe's and Rebuild Together have partnered for eight years. Four years ago, Carter’s Kids also formed a partnership. That organization works to build playgrounds across the U.S. to promote fitness and self-esteem for children.

Rebuilding Together has worked on 1,200 homes in the U.S. over the years, sometimes as individual projects and others as a cluster in a neighborhood.

In the 20 cases where a playground has been built, the groups picks a neighborhood based on a combination of need, viable volunteer base and other factors. Once a neighborhood is chosen, the organization canvasses the area for projects that can be accomplished by volunteer workers.

Down the street from Rhodes’ home, Dalas Norton ended up receiving a new roof to replace one that had been occasionally springing leaks. The offer, which came with new gutters, came as a surprise to him.

“They showed up at my door. I don’t know why,” said Norton. “This is very nice right here.”

Norton, who is a painter by trade, did a bunch of the prep work himself before the volunteers arrived. The Navy veteran and cancer survivor said others deserved help more than he did. But the man who has lived in Greenbrier since 1978 said the project gave him a big boost since he couldn’t yet afford the project he knew the house needed.

“I was trying to work to see if I could round up money to do it. I probably could have eventually got there, but it might have been a while,” Norton said. “The roof was the big part, that would have been several thousand bucks.”

Meanwhile, dozens of volunteers worked to put together a shiny new playground next to the tennis court on Winterlochen Rd. Carter’s Kids worked with the neighborhood to figure out the elements and type of playground that fits best.

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