225 Christian Volunteers Arrive in Woonsocket to Provide Free Home Repairs
In Partnership with NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
WOONSOCKET, RI, JULY 17, 2022 – On Monday, July 18, 2022, 225 Christian volunteers from across the country headed out into the Woonsocket Community. Their mission, to repair the homes of 22 homeowners throughout the city as part of the Woonsocket Free Home Repair Program, coordinated by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. Monday through Friday (July 18-22) volunteers will paint, repair decks, and weatherize the houses, all completely FREE of charge.
The program launches at 8am on Monday morning as the volunteers pile into the gym at Hamlet Middle School after spending their first night sleeping on the floor of a middle school classroom. The group will be welcomed by representatives from Group Cares, the nonprofit organization coordinating their experience in Woonsocket, and by Meg Rego of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, the local nonprofit coordinating these efforts.
2022 marks the fourth year that NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV) has partnered with an interdenominational Christian nonprofit, Group Cares to provide completely FREE home repairs for homeowners and their families. With the pandemic disrupting programming in 2020 and 2021, NWBRV is thrilled to welcome back this much needed support to the City of Woonsocket. Many of the home repair recipients have been waiting for this, much needed, work since they initially applied in 2019.
“Home repairs are expensive, and current inflation and rising interest rates have made many necessary repairs out of reach for so many local homeowners. We’re grateful for the commitment of these young adults from across the country who have volunteered their time and money to support these 22 Woonsocket residents” shares Paula Rezendes, NWBRV Free Home Repair Project Manager.
“These are really remarkable young people,” said Tim Gilmour, of Group Mission Trips. “Each one is actually paying for the privilege of working with your community. Workcamp registration fees are used to cover our costs for food, insurance, and building materials.” Each Workcamper contributed $486 to take part in the week.
Mike Krantz, Missions Developer for Group Cares commented “these are really incredible young people. They are inspired by their faith and use that inspiration to carry out good works in communities all across the country, including your community here in Woonsocket.” He went on to express his thanks for the program staff at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley for their work coordinating with the families and setting up this year’s camp.
Over the course of the week, volunteers will “collectively contribute 6,075 hours of volunteer labor – with a total economic impact to the community of $177,207,” said Meg Rego, Dir. Resource Development & Communications for NWBRV (this is according to the Independent Sector’s value of Volunteer Time).
The volunteers are housed at Woonsocket Middle School Hamlet, with Workcampers sleeping on classroom floors, eating in the cafeteria, and enjoying evening programs in the gym. We at NeighborWorks are thankful to the Woonsocket School Committee for approving use of the school for this project, and to the Woonsocket Education Department and Sodexo for accepting with open arms the challenge that comes from having 225 volunteers sleep, eat, and shower at the middle school. Group Mission Trips reimburses all costs incurred by the Middle School when hosting the volunteers.
There are considerable economic benefits associated with this program. Many of the 22 home repair projects include exterior paint jobs, adding railings, and repairing outdoor porches. These types of improvements have been shown to increase property values, especially when improvements are made in a concentrated area. In terms of immediate benefits, great effort was made to purchase the supplies for the home repairs from local establishments and the 225 volunteers will buy gasoline, food, and other items from local restaurants and businesses on their “free evening,” Wednesday, 7/20 when they explore the city from 1PM to 7PM.
While the majority of home repair recipients are concentrated in the Fairmount Neighborhood, they stretch across the entire city of Woonsocket, as illustrated in the map provided.
Photo opportunities can be arranged during the following time:
Morning Program: Monday, 6/18 @ 8:00AM – Hamlet Middle School (60 Florence Drive., Woonscket, RI). Group will participate in a morning program, then head outdoors at 8:30am for a group photo
On Site: M, T, R, and F from 9:30AM–2:30PM (not during lunch, 12pm-12:30pm); W from 9:30AM–12:00PM (note, volunteers will be working in small teams of 6-12 on each house)
Evening Activities (dinner, free time, worship/devotional service): M-F 5:00PM–9:00PM
While the community development corporation NeighborWorksBRV is responsible for bring this project to Woonsocket, it would not have been possible without the financial backing of Santander. Continued support from the Woonsocket Education Department, the Woonsocket School Committee, Police Department, Fire Department, Sodexo, City of Woonsocket, and other city officials makes this community initiative possible.
2022 Free Home Repair Sites: