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Pilot Program Spruces Up Columbus’ Milo-Grogan Neighborhood
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Volunteers coordinated by Habitat for Humanity have been working in Columbusâ€™ Milo-Grogan Neighborhood. Theyâ€™re not building houses, though; theyâ€™re doing maintenance that includes tree trimming, driveway sealing, gutter and siding repair. Itâ€™s a pilot program of Greater Columbus Habitat for Humanity, the organization thatâ€™s better known for the houses it builds for needy families. Michelle Castro Giovanni is Habitatâ€™s local program director.
â€œWe are working on houses in the neighborhood â€“ 17 houses and the 5 contiguous houses around those houses. We are going to landscape the houses, scrape the old paint off the porch rails and posts, put new paint on, power wash the houses and just freshen up the neighborhood,â€ says Michelle Castro Giovanni.
Workers started at a Habitat home built in 1984. Carl Lee says he helped lay the homeâ€™s concrete block foundation.
â€œThis is the first Habitat home that was built in Columbus, Ohio,â€ Lee says. â€œThis is the Habitat crew coming and restoring and they are doing this as a donation to the neighborhood at no cost to the homeowners.â€
A volunteer cranks up the power washer and begins washing away years grime.
A few blocks away at a contractorâ€™s headquarters other volunteers including nearby residents try their hand at other projects. All of them are enthusiastic; one of the residents beams with excitement.
â€œMy name is Winnie Jackson and my title is resident / owner in the Milo-Grogan area.â€
Q: Why are you so excited?
â€œBecause my house is going to get power washed,â€ Jackson says. â€œIâ€™m just excited about Habitat coming and doing this. I canâ€™t really afford to pay to have a lot of services done and they offered these and Iâ€™m just excited. Because I take pride in the neighborhood that we live in. I just want to see it look better.â€
This is a new undertaking for the Habitat organization says Castro Giovanni.
â€œTypically what we do is we go in and we identify property that is available for purchase, and then we bring families, donors and volunteers, and materials and the construction experience into the project. We build our houses and then we leave,â€ Castro Giovanni says.
But she says, under this pilot program, Habitat is joining forces with other businesses and organizations in the area. Theyâ€™re asking residents what their wishes are.
â€œIf they want to see additional new habitat homes or rehabbed Habitat homes as a part of what has to happen in this neighborhood, then thatâ€™s what weâ€™ll be responsive to,â€ Castro Giovanni says. â€œAnd so our hope is to engage as many agencies in the revitalization of Milo-Grogan as possible, so that itâ€™s Habitat and many others that are making an impact in Milo-Grogan.â€
Inside the shop area of the contractorâ€™s office, Milo-Grogan homeowner Claire Austin converts old pallets into flower boxes and Adirondack chairs. Itâ€™s the first time sheâ€™s ever used a circular saw.
â€œI just turned 63 in April, and Iâ€™m having a ball! Itâ€™s sad that I had to wait â€˜til my older age to learn how to have fun. This is fun. I really am enjoying myself,â€ says Austin.