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Birmingham Build-a-Thon, Day 2

By Michele Duley


The crew from Jacksonville Beaches


Today marked the start of Revitalization Initiatives for the AmeriCorps groups in Birmingham.

The four teams worked on four different houses throughout the area: three painted, and the fourth was focused on re-roofing. After an intense day on site performing post-tornado disaster relief, the teams seemed eager and ready to go off to their prospective projects.

As a marketing member assigned to follow and photograph Team 3 (the roofing team), I was able to both forge new friendships with affiliate members from other areas whom I have not met before and learn a bit about some of the neighborhood residents through conversations I had with neighbors. I felt an instant rapport with the crew from Jacksonville Beaches, an area where just a few short years ago I started my service at the HabiJax affiliate.

The participants’ dedication was obvious in their steadfast, committed work on the roof, despite the high temperatures that soared into the low 90s.

The highlight of my day was having the opportunity to speak with the next-door neighbors of the house we were working on. The lady of the house (who declined to have her name used), a friendly, soft spoken elderly woman, had lived with her adult son in the same house for the last 30 years. She spoke of seeing the gradual decline of the neighborhood and struggling to find sufficient money or help for maintenance and repairs on her own house.

She shared with me how she found a church program that helped her repair and resurface her floors and we spoke about Habitat’s revitalization efforts and the good things we both saw it was bringing into the neighborhood. I was able to give her the information of who to call to see if she qualified, as she had been looking to repair her roof for several years now.

It occurred to me that this was a huge part of what the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative was about ― not just repairing one household, but also transforming neighborhoods as a whole and reaching out to residents we have not traditionally served in the past.