Volunteers from Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay paint the home of Carrie Williams in Tampa Heights. LENORA LAKE
BY LENORA LAKE Special Correspondent
Published: July 3, 2013
Updated: July 3, 2013 at 12:20 PM
TAMPA HEIGHTS - Carrie Williams couldn't express what it meant to her to have her yard filled with volunteers painting her house, adding fruit trees and mulching her flower beds of crotons, periwinkles, hibiscus and more. The Tampa Heights resident was one of five recipients who received help with repairs and improvements. The work was funded by $375,000 in grants to two nonprofits through the Wells Fargo Neighborhood Lift program. "To have someone care enough to come, words wouldn't express it," she said as she hugged volunteers on a recent Saturday morning at her Francis Street home. "They just have compassion and love for you." Prior to the volunteer work day, Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, a local branch of a national nonprofit to repair and rehab housing, had reroofed her home, made repairs to the plumbing and drywall, and added grab bars in the home for the 69-year-old owner.
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, a local nonprofit dedicated to cleanups and planting greenery, also received the Neighborhood Lift grant and partnered with Rebuilding Together for the June 22 Summer Rebuild Day with about 225 volunteers total participating. Pat DePlasco of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful spoke to the crowd as they gathered at Robles Park to go to one of the five sites. "We are making history today with two nonprofits involved," she told them. Jared White of Rebuilding Together said his organization focused on the houses "while Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful adds the curb appeal." Each organization then had corporate support financially and in volunteer manpower from various companies including Mosaic, Citi Bank and Booz/Allen/Hamilton. Chris Smith from Mosaic lead a team painting. The company donated $20,000 to the project and was assigned a house on Keyes Avenue. Other volunteers trimmed bushes on the property and planted crepe myrtles along the street. Community volunteers, including Nathan Powers and George Holmes, airmen from MacDill Air Force Base, also participated. "We want to help keep a positive image for the Air Force and to give back to the community," Holmes said. Neighborhoods groups and residents also were asked to get involved "to have community buy-in to maintain and sustain the projects," White said. Metropolitan Ministries, which operates from Tampa Heights, supplied volunteers. Tim Marks, Metropolitan Ministries president, said, "We are giving hope and love to somebody. And we are part of the Tampa Heights community." The ministries' entrepreneurial enterprise, Outside the Box, a restaurant/catering company, also benefited as lunch was ordered for the volunteers through that business, which in turn makes money for Metropolitan Ministries. A Fall Rebuilding Day Project, which includes 25 additional major home repairs in Tampa Heights, is planned. To qualify for services, the home must be owner-occupied, the homeowner must fall below 80 percent of the area's median income, and be current on taxes and mortgage payments. For information, see www.rttb.org.