Volunteers help upgrade homes in southeast Queens. Photo courtesy of Rebuilding Together NY
BY TRONE DOWD
Several homes in Jamaica received a complete makeover, thanks to a group of volunteers working alongside NBA Cares, local non-profit Rebuilding Together NYC and the City Council.
NBA Cares Ambassador and former player Felipe Lopez, Rebuilding Together NYC Executive Director Kimberly George and Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) helped organize the community event. Volunteers began work on repairing several Jamaica homes, assisting families who could not afford crucial renovations. The work was completed in honor of National Rebuilding Day, a nationwide volunteer effort to assist homeowners who can’t afford home improvement projects.
Last year, Rebuild Together pulled together nearly 1,500 volunteers to repair a total of 43 homes and 14 community centers throughout the five boroughs. The effort helped more than 30,000 New Yorkers citywide.
In Jamaica, a total of five homes were repaired as well as two community centers: The Allen Senior Center and Project Hope. Some of the work that was conducted on Sunday included the laying of flooring, fixing and painting walls, landscaping and replacing carpeting. In addition to the renovations, 15 solar powered lights were installed to help “increase the safety in the neighborhood,” according to a spokesperson with Rebuilding Together NYC.
“It means so much to us to see the passion and energy that our volunteers bring every time we are able to rebuild a home and lessen the burden on a family that has been struggling to get the help they need,” Rebuilding Together NYC Executive Director Kimberly George said. “Too many New Yorkers are living in unsafe conditions, having to forego critical home repairs that put their health at risk. Our mission today – and every day – is to ensure that everyone has a safe, healthy place to live and we will keep working toward that mission one NYC neighborhood at a time.”
According to Rebuilding Together Director of Programs Brianna McKinney, Jamaica was chosen as one of the first neighborhoods not ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“We wanted to branch out,” McKinney said. “We looked at our wait list and plugged in all of the addresses in of our applicants. We saw that there was a cluster of homes in Jamaica. [In] early February, we started doing assessments in Jamaica.”
Wills said that he was pleased to see the repairs being conducted in his district.
“The work that Rebuilding Together NYC does every day – lifting up New Yorkers whose stories are too often forgotten – is a reminder of the importance of volunteering your time and energy to an important cause right in your backyard,” Wills said. “Thousands of New Yorkers are living in better conditions thanks to Rebuilding Together NYC and its wonderful volunteers.”
Homeowners said that they were grateful for the help.
“It brought so much joy and relief to my family to see so many hardworking people complete the repairs that we have needed for so long,” Jamaica homeowner Yolanda Watson said. “I cannot thank Rebuilding Together NYC and their volunteers enough for supporting their fellow New Yorkers who are in need.”