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Volunteers team up to work toward revitalization

Special Correspondent
Published: November 4, 2015
LENORA LAKE Steevens Adras, 18, and Dillion Bristol, 19, volunteers from Community Stepping Stones, put the address on a mailbox post that will be installed in a Sulphur Springs yard during a recent workday in the community. Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, businesses and other agencies are trying to revitalize the community.

SULPHUR SPRINGS — Volunteers from community organizations, businesses and churches joined together recently to help improve nine homes in the distressed Sulphur Springs area.

The effort, spearheaded by the Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay (RTTB), was supported by a new grant of $225,000 from JPMorgan Chase, which partnered with RTTB five years ago to revitalize the neighborhood. To date, $600,000 has been contributed to the project.

The Oct. 24 workday in the community included painting homes, replacing mailboxes, landscaping yards, creating container gardens, installing smoke detectors and other projects.

Brian Schowalter, 14, and Cole Hoffman, 15, of Bayshore Baptist Church, were among the volunteers and they prepared a container garden with vegetable plants for one of the households.

“It’s a good time to give back to the community,” Hoffman said.

Carter Pugliese, 19, of the nonprofit group Community Stepping Stones in Sulphur Springs, agreed.

“I like to help out; it’s a chance to get out and talk to people in the community, too,” he said as he used a post hole digger to install a new mailbox.

Anthony Baldo of Chase presented the check before the work began. He said afterwards that Chase committed to the overall revitalization in 2010 “because we believe in the power of partnerships, the power of change.”

Each house received items and information, including a Healthy Home Kit, a concept developed by RTTB that offers home maintenance and fiscal educational workshops, and coordinates beautification and wellness campaigns.

Oct. 24 was also the statewide launch day of the Building Healthier Neighborhoods in Florida program, which included four other Florida affiliates of Rebuilding Together — North Central Florida, Orlando, Broward County and Miami Dade — adopting the Healthy Home Kit concept.

With the statewide launch, 20 homes (including the nine in Sulphur Springs) received improvements for a safer, healthier and more energy efficient environment.