Good Neighbors

Community Comes Together to Fix Needy Neighbors' Homes

Volunteers from 28 churches put differences in theology aside to "do unto others."

Sometimes problems seem so big that they're insurmountable. But when you get a group of enthusiastic people together who want to make a difference, the impossible suddenly becomes possible.

That's the idea behind The Carpenters Project, a gathering of volunteers in the small town of Ellwood City, PA, north west of Pittsburgh, who spent last week repairing and sprucing up the homes of neighbors who can't do the work themselves.

225 volunteers from 28 churches participated. 125 volunteers -- more than half of them young people -- worked on-site at 51 homes doing everything from painting projects and carpentry, to yard work, and even power washing homes.

"It's an absolute honor to have people team up together to help people in this community." Steven Miller

The Carpenters Project started 18 years ago, when members of Calvin Presbyterian Church discovered that some elderly and lower income people in the neighborhood couldn't maintain their homes themselves. "We knew there was a need," Carpenter Project co-founder Marsha Timblin told Ellwood . "There were fixes that needed to be made but not enough money to do them."

Volunteers did what homeowners couldn't do for themselves.

Project Director Steven Miller, a high school math teacher, has been doing this for 14 years. He told Sparkt the story of a woman with multiple sclerosis. "Her house itself looked fine, but the yard work was too much for her. She can't physically do it," explained Miller. A crew trimmed her overgrown bushes and removed some small trees that had fallen down. They also installed a handrail to make it easier to get from her garage to the house. At the celebration picnic at the end of the week, Miller says the woman was the first up to speak. "She told the whole group that we had changed her life."

One homeowner told volunteers: "You changed my life."

Miller calls the project a "permanent part of the community" and says they'll do it again next year. To find out how to get involved, message them on their Facebook page . "It's an absolute honor to have people for different ages and faiths to team up together to help people in this community," said Miller. "None of it would be possible without volunteers from so many different churches."

(Images: The Carpenter's Project of Ellwood City Facebook page )

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