DREW PARK – Andy Hitchcock pointed to a drooping ceiling – directing a team of volunteers who really needed no help in knowing what needed to be done.
The Lennar Homes construction manager was showing other Lennar construction managers and associates from his company the poor condition of an office location at a Drew Park residence home for 60 veterans. Most are in transitional housing, with the next step being re-entry into the workforce and independent living. For some, the facility provides a residence and transportation for therapies and other services needed.
The Lennar team had come on Jan. 3 to rehab the building known as the cottage. They would create sleeping facilities for five additional residents in the space as well, each of whom would get a closet too.
“We like doing this,” said Hitchcock as the volunteers worked to move walls, improve the ceiling, replace windows and install a new floor.
Meanwhile, others Lennar volunteers were busy improving the common areas of the facility at 4403 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. That work included an upgrade to the dining room as well as painting and adding new flooring and furnishing a family visiting room.
The facility is operated by Gracepoint Management Inc., a nonprofit organization formed after the merger of three area nonprofits: Agency for Community Treatment Services, Pinellas Enrichment for Mental Health and Mental Health Inc.
“We really struggle for capital improvement and we have to maintain a standard of living,” said Richard Brown , Gracepoint’s strategy officer and Hillsborough president.
Some parts of the facility are 70 to 80 years old and were once used as World War II-era Army Air Corps officers quarters, he added.
A grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs of $219,000 will be used by Gracepoint to rehab another building, called the Carriage House. The grant required a 25 percent match that the private property owner will donate, Brown said.
Gracepoint officials said they secured $5,000 in materials and furnishings from various vendors with whom they work. They could not estimate the value of the planning, designing and labor involved, except to say it was “priceless.”
Kami Corbett, director of entitlement and due diligence at Lennar Homes, 4300 W. Cypress St., said the Drew Park facility was one of five volunteer projects that day in Lennar’s west and central Florida region.
She had heard about the Tampa facility through others she volunteers with in the area of social services.
“This facility was the best place we could make a difference,” Corbett said.