Volunteer group revitalizes low-income homes in Petersburg

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Volunteers in Petersburg began repairs on eight houses and the Pathways Center Saturday. The work was done as part of a nationwide effort to fix-up low income homes.

Rebuilding Together has vowed to revitalize 3500 buildings across the country. Including this weekend's construction, the organization has worked on nearly 250 homes in the tri-cities.

The volunteers are strangers to Janice Calim, but she considers them friends. Grateful doesn't cover how she feels looking at what these people are doing for her.

"I've been saying thank you. Thank you so many times it's not enough," she said.

Calim's lived in her Battersea neighborhood home for twelve years. It could be considered a fixer upper.

"It leaks," she said. "There is water damage, the woods rotting, the floor is falling out, windows and doors are bad. There is a lot of stuff going on with it."

Executive Director Barbara Maite says folks like Calim are ideal candidates.

"Our mission is to improve the homes and lives of low income homeowners and so what we want to make sure we do is have a safe and healthy home for every homeowner," she said.

For this Hinton Street home, that includes a new roof, floors, doors and windows. Rebuilding Together has $6,000 or $7,000 dollars worth of donated materials, but if it had to pay for labor as well, that would bring the price tag up to $50,000 or $60,000.

"It's nice to be able to help out other people and take something I'm good at and use that to help other people," said volunteer Gary Kratzer.

But the need far exceeds the help these volunteers are able to provide. Still, Rebuilding Together is taking applications for next year's build day. The owners have to live in the home and meet low income qualifications. The organization is hoping to make other people feel like Janice Calim.

"I can't believe anybody would try to help me like this," she said.

Next Saturday is this year's last build day. If you want to be considered for next April's projects visit the Rebuilding Together website or call 861-8686.

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