Mending Fences Program is a FREE service for qualified homeowners (low-income, senior, vet, disabled) living in houses that need minor repairs, replacements and renovations necessary for home safety. This program is about revitalizing our city and eliminating blight with a community of volunteers, skilled craftspersons, and generous donors through collaboration, partnerships and teamwork, focusing on providing home improvements to provide residents who are in dire need to remain safe, comfortable, and habitable in their own homes.
It started with broken, wooden steps that the next door elderly neighbor couldn’t fix. Winter was approaching and some volunteers got together to fix his steps and handrail. We knew there must be other low-income homeowners who were elderly, disabled, and/or veterans in the city like Mr. Staley. We started talking to neighbors, community leaders, Aging Services agency and Senior Center to identify others qualified homeowners.
Church leaders approached us to see if we needed help. They decided to stay in the community to help rather than travel to another state/country because the City continues its downward slide. Along with their 40 youth and 10 adult volunteers, we combined with 10 Southwest Training Crew and other community volunteers, and developed three major phases of rolling out the project. We collaborated with church leaders, a national affiliate Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Washington Financial Bank, sponsors 84 Lumber and retired Steelers, to improve people’s homes as well as improve the environment.
We collaborated with church leaders, a national affiliate Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Washington Financial Bank, sponsors 84 Lumber and retired Steelers, to plan the activities and coordinate work assignments. We spoke to as many residents and property owners along the two block area to let them know of the planned activities and asked if we could help them with projects around the house, and asked them to join us.
It was physically evident once the vacant lots and streets were cleaned up, pruned and mowed. For the homeowner, the house had siding put up on the front and back of the house, the porch and steps painted, and the interior was cleaned up, painted, and new floorings installed in the kitchen and hallway. The homeowner was ecstatic. The neighbors admired the work done on the blocks and help maintain their properties.
Sustaining the Work:
We are continually looking for qualified homeowners. We recruit from Rotary, Masons, community, churches. We solicit donations from the community members, individuals and corporations, and foundations. We work closely with Aging Services (Meals on Wheels) and our local Senior Center to identify candidates.
Several youth mission groups volunteered to make an impact on people’s lives which they did by working on two street blocks improving blighted, vacant properties – weedwacking, mowing, pruning, picking up trash, making and distributing potted plants to each house. Their efforts were contagious; the community members strive to maintain – picking up trash and keeping vacant lots mowed, adopting planters and planting their own flowers.