Rebuilding Together continues to do good work for tornado victims
Date: 6/4/2012June 4, 2012
By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
SPRINGFIELD It's mid-afternoon on May 30, a day during which volunteers from the Springfield Chapter of Rebuilding Together have worked on the homes of tornado victims, and looking at her home, Janice Brown said, "I'm doing better today."
Brown stood outside of her one-story house at the end of Eastern Avenue. The lack of trees at the shoreline of Lake Massasoit affords a clear view of the homes of Island Pond Road, which were also devastated by the storm a year ago. On the other side of Eastern Avenue, there are several lots where homes once stood and buildings still in need of demolition. The ubiquitous blue tarps are still part of the skyline.
Brown spoke to Reminder Publications
as two of the volunteers worked on her home's electrical system. She has lived at 451 Eastern Ave. for 22 years and she has five children, three of whom are of college age and were still living at home when the tornado substantially damaged their house.
She said that she went to a variety of agencies and programs to seek help in rebuilding her house.
"I went everywhere. Colleen [Loveless, executive director of Rebuilding Together] was the only one to help," she said.
The volunteers from Rebuilding Together had gathered at the parking lot of Berkshire Bank on Howard Street at 8:30 a.m. that morning for the daylong event "Funnel Your Energy." To date, the chapter has helped rebuild 25 homes of the more than 1,600 damaged by the tornado.
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who spoke to the volunteers, said prior to the rally, "There is a tremendous amount of progress made in all of the communities, but it's clear more work needs to be done."
Murray's appearance at the kick-off of the event was to announce the state's award of $75,000 to the organization to continue its work. Rebuilding Together has already received $100,000 in state funds.
He said of the organization, "It's good works in action."
A number of local businesses and organizations have contributed to Rebuilding Together's efforts, including Berkshire Bank, AARP Massachusetts, Lowe's Home Improvement, TD Bank, Springfield Sustainable Energy Association, Verizon Wireless, Triple S Construction, Home Builders Association of Western Massachusetts, Derosier Tree Company, Springfield Partners for Community Action and the city of Springfield.
Brown said that after the tornado, she and her children lived with various family members. "It's not easy," she said. And after a year, she wants to return to her own home.
The problem is that Brown still doesn't have a home to which she could move back. She had hired a contractor who didn't rebuild her roof to code and who had so poorly installed the new vinyl siding it was blowing off the house in the wind.
The contractor had inexplicably gutted her house and her fixtures and plumbing are now all gone.
"He took the money and ran," Brown said.
To donate funds or volunteers, contact Rebuilding Together at 788-0014.