Hamilton home-repair workcamps get statewide honor

“It’s a labor of love,” said Jeff Diver, executive director of Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF).

Diver said the one-week event in July brought more than 330 national volunteers and more than 300 local volunteers, that included 80 different organizations such as churches and nonprofits as well as other partners and donors, who worked together to repair 45 houses in July and another 30 houses since then. He expects another five houses to be repaired by Dec. 31, with a few additional repair projects in 2013.

The volunteers’ work also corrected city and state building code violations in 18 houses, which prevented legal action against the homeowners, Diver said. All of the work was done by volunteers at no cost.

The Ohio Community Action Centers Association selected the SELF work camp effort as the top project for 2012.

“We’re very honored to receive this award,” Diver said. “The community should take pride that this project was recognized because it was a community-wide project. SELF received the award on behalf of all of those people, partners, donors and sponsors who made it possible.”

“Their dedication and hard work inspires us all to step up our revitalization efforts,” said Nate Coffman, executive director of the Ohio CDC Association.

In addition, a number of nonprofit organizations, churches and Hamilton city government officials helped to make the project a success.

SELF’s Hamilton Group Workcamps Home Repair Project was recognized for its collaboration and recruitment of hundreds of volunteers. Many of the houses they repaired had dangerous situations such as collapsing porches, roof leaks with crumbling ceilings, rotting stairs and missing handrails.

Most of the repair effort was concentrated in the city’s 4th Ward. Diver said more than 14,000 service hours were logged and more than $18,000 was spent locally for supplies.

“The event was for one week, but it’s a year-round project planning for it,” he said.

The volunteers, who paid to participate, were housed at Garfield Middle School and were provided meals from local volunteers and organizations.

In 2013, SELF has received funding through the Group Workcamps to support volunteers to do home repair projects in Middletown from July 7-13. Diver said SELF will apply for funding for another workcamp in Hamilton for 2014.

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