Three more families’ lives were transformed this past weekend when their homes underwent major repair work thanks to volunteers from the Ben-Gurion Society of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Hillel at the University of Maryland, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue, and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. The volunteers, working as part of Yachad’s annual Sukkot in Spring home repair program, were also making a difference as a part of the Federation’s Good Deeds Day. The volunteers came together to perform incredible work in partnership with homeowners in Anacostia, Petworth, and Takoma Park, DC.
The Webb Home
The Ben-Gurion Society and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School worked on the home of Ms. Lynn-Sheree Webb. Ms. Webb lives in the home with her three sons, John, Charlie, and Lenny, and her young grandson. The family hired a contractor some time ago to complete needed repairs on the home, but the contractor scammed them and left with large sums of money without completing the work. As a result, the home was left in major need of roofing, electrical, and plumbing work, and the family no longer had the funds to hire another contractor. Yachad mobilized skilled workers to complete many of these repairs. After the skilled work, the house needed a tremendous amount of TLC in the form of painting.
That’s where the volunteers came in. Students and parents from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School energetically painted the walkway leading up to the house and cleaned and prepped the indoors for painting. After their hard work to prep the house, members of the Ben-Gurion Society then painted most of the home. Yachad’s construction manager, Robin Renner, skillfully managed the project to maximize the volunteers’ impact. Ben-Gurion Society volunteers also put together an outdoor memorial for Ms. Webb’s late son and commemorated his life with a moment of silence by the memorial stone. By the end of the day, the house had become a home.
The Edwards Home
Elsewhere, University of Maryland Hillel students were hard at work at the Edwards’ home, which has been in the family for forty-five years; Mrs. Edwards purchased the home when she was twenty-three. The Edwards’ have seven children and many grandchildren, and the home is the family’s “community center.” Mr. and Mrs. Edwards live in the home with four of their children and three young grandchildren.
The house has gone through substantial wear and tear. Mr. Edwards had a stroke several years ago, and Mrs. Edwards retired to take care of him. Ever since, it has been difficult for the family to gather resources for large scale repairs.
Recently, Yachad partnered with YouthBuild, an alternative high school that provides vocational construction training for its students. YouthBuild students drywalled most of the house, transforming the walls that had been covered with crayon markings, dirt, and holes. They also are repairing the home’s outdoor siding.
Other skilled workers removed dirty and worn carpets throughout the home. Mrs. Edwards shared that her grandsons had allergy or recurring cold symptoms, and when the carpets were removed their coughing and other symptoms suddenly disappeared.
On Sunday, University of Maryland Hillel students painted much of the house in order to give it a fresh look. Thirty plus volunteers grabbed paintbrushes and rollers and made their way from room to room, wall to wall and coat to coat to complete the painting. Two of the Edwards grandsons also did a fabulous job painting and working alongside the other volunteers. Whether hoisting friends up to reach windowsills or letting friends sit on shoulders to reach the ceilings, the teamwork of the students and Edwards family members made a great deal of work possible. John Collier, who also led the YouthBuild projects at the home, and Richard Feldman, a longtime Yachad partner, did a great job supervising the large project.
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards were extremely appreciative of the work being done and were gracious hosts. There are even more exciting renovations planned for the Edwards home, so stayed stay tuned!
The McKeever Home
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation marked their 20th year of participation in Sukkot in Spring with a two-day project at the McKeever home. Ms. Christine McKeever has lived in her home in historic Anacostia for almost thirty years. She lives with her longtime partner, Morris, her two sons Isaiah and Randy, and her grandson, Malik. There was a fire in the home in 2000, which hindered the family’s ability to keep up with the home.
Yachad completed initial, skilled repairs in the home, and Adat Shalom volunteers came in on two Sundays to complete even more work. The volunteers worked alongside the McKeever family to paint, conduct handyperson repairs, and making the living space much more habitable. With their years of expertise on Yachad projects, the volunteers swiftly made progress in the home.
Mrs. McKeever’s son, grandson and Adat Shalom volunteers also mustered their strength to move the original cast iron, non-functioning furnace out of the way of the new electrical box into a newly cleared out space. This was a big job and big congratulations were well-deserved. A special thanks to the construction manager on the project and Yachad board member, Louis Tenenbaum.
There is still more to come for the McKeever home as the spring and summer progress.
Thank you so much to all who have volunteered, led projects, and contributed financially to Yachad’s work so far this spring. An enormous amount has already been accomplished, and this is just the beginning of what is to come during the rest of the spring and the year. A big thanks to some of our Neighbor to Neighbor sponsors whose financial support enabled these volunteer groups to do tremendous work.