For SHA volunteers, hard work and big rewards
They filed in bright and early on Saturday April 23, and spent the day raking, sweeping, hauling, swabbing down and painting, among other heavy lifting in the Old Hill neighborhood of Springfield.
The 10 Springfield Housing Authority employees along with three friends were among some 1,500 people who volunteered a day off to pitch in on the 4th annual #GreenNFit Block Rebuild, put on by Revitalize CDC and its many community partners and sponsors.
The effort involved 62 homes in the two-block stretch, and the SHA team worked on the duplex at 223-225 Hancock St., a public housing scattered-site property. With one of the duplexes vacant, authority workers focused their efforts there with yard clean-up, removal of debris, and a refreshing paint job in the basement.
Those who gave their time said it was rewarding, a chance to help others out and join in Revitalize CDC’s 10-year plan to rebuild hundreds of homes in the area, where 49 percent of children live below the poverty level. In addition to that, Old Hill neighborhood was hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008 and the 2011 tornado.
The SHA effort is organized by Deputy Executive Director Nicole Contois, who is treasurer the of Revitalize Board of Directors. She said the day is always fun, and productive.
“It was a great day,” Contois said. “It was so wonderful to see so many people from SHA turning out. We were a good team.”
People are motivated to join in the effort because of the difference it makes for all of the residents of Old Hill, but especially the many elderly homeowners who are the key target of the decade-long clean-up project.
“It’s something good for the community,” noted Contois, herself a life-long Springfield resident.
“It helps low-income, aging homeowners stay in their homes. For some it makes the difference between staying at home and losing their homes in foreclosure,” she added.
In addition to Contois, the SHA group included: Celina Correa, District D property manager, Richie Daignault, mechanic, Brad Fink, District E assistance property manager, Fidan Gousseynoff, Executive Department manager, Rosa Leo, warehouse manager, Raymond Milano, maintenance, Joan Miranda, Section 8 clerk, Sergio Ramon, maintenance, and Jose Torres, District D foreman.
Also joining the effort were friends Matthew Daignault and Haley Meunier.
District D Property Manager Celina Correa said she participated in the day last year, and found it so rewarding she didn’t think twice about it this year.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to help out the community,” said Correa, who painted and did yard work on the SHA property.
“It’s fun. You feel good at the end of the day. I love it. I love the fact that I can help out the community in some way,” she said.
It was Joan Miranda’s third time volunteering for Revitalize CDC, and she said that as usual, it was fun.
“You meet a lot of people, and everyone is amped up and ready to go. There’s so much to do,” said Miranda, who spent much of the day with a paintbrush in hand.
“It’s fun to take a walk up and down the street at the beginning of the day, and then again at the end. You got so much done working together,” Miranda added.
Volunteers come from businesses, organizations, and even schools. This year, the Western New England University football team was on hand to do some heavy lifting clearing overgrown and long-littered empty lots, including hauling metal appliances and other dumped items.
The Revitalize CDC 10 year plan is to complete 10 contiguous blocks in Old Hill with an average of 25 homes per block, per year.
Copyright © 2013 Springfield Housing Authority. All Rights Reserved.