Over thirty houses on the 2000 block of North 62nd street in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia will receive much needed repairs — thanks to the work of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia.
For months, thousands of volunteers from across the city converged to hammer, saw, build and install needed appliances for homeowners who otherwise would be unable to make the repairs and modifications to their homes necessary because of financial constraints.
The organization will also build a playground for the community in addition to restoring bathrooms for the Overbrook Environmental Center.
“It’s a huge endeavor and it’s engaging about a thousand volunteers during the course of June 14–16,” said Carrie Rathmann, executive director of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia.
While volunteers have been working for several months in the area, they were not without help from those whose homes and community they are repairing.
“So far the block itself — all of the home owners and their families have been working alongside us for several months already,” Rathmann said.
Rathmann noted that the response from the community was impressive, and local businesses also chipped in with things like parking.
“We have been around for about 23 years and the organization itself nationally has been around a little longer than that,” said Rathmann about the group’s history. “Here we rose out of the efforts of a couple of Wharton students who started the group here in Philadelphia, and to date we have done close to 1100 homes throughout Philadelphia.”
One recipient of the organization, Andrea Spencer, is having new tiles, floors, a new roof and walls done in her house by the volunteers.
Spencer said she found out about the organization from her husband who went to a meeting held in the community. Having applied for repairs and having to verify income, they were informed that they were selected for the project.
“It makes me feel as though I died and went to heaven,” Spencer said. “At that time my husband was laid off and I have a very low paying job because we needed the additional income. The repairs that they are doing — there is no way that we would have been able to afford with our income.”
Spencer said she feels as if God is smiling down upon her.
“Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is a gift from God being expressed through all of these beautiful contractors, people and volunteers running around the neighborhood with such intention to do good things for all the neighbors,” she said. “It’s just overflowing with joy, purpose and goodness. It’s a piece of heaven going on right inside our neighborhood.”
Another recipient of repairs, Leeanna Burell, has lived on block for 41 years and is a residential service provider disabled people.
“I’m just overwhelmed with it [the project] because I have been in business here for 41 years and nobody has never tried to help me before, and its not just me, it’s the people on this block,” she said. “I’m thrilled because even though I do receive a paycheck, it’s not enough.”