Rebuilding Community, One Job at a Time: Volunteers Help Rehab Robbins Homes
Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills and the Northern Moore Family Resource Center recently teamed up for a weeklong "blitz" restoring and repairing half a dozen homes in Robbins.
More than 70 volunteers, using building materials donated by Locust Lumber, spread out to houses badly in need of various kinds of repair.
Volunteers installed new roofs, laid brick to shore up porches, rescreened other porches, cleaned up yards, and installed insulation.
"A lot of people in this town need help with things around the house," said Linda Gilmore. "Just like me, they can't afford to do it."
She's a widow, struggling on half the income after losing her husband two years ago. She shares her spotless home a block away from midtown with her well-loved dog, Nibbles, and several friendly cats.
"I thank God for these people," she said. "I was at my wits' end, because I need a roof - needed so much done around here - and I just couldn't afford to do it."
She called Habitat for Humanity and was told to go to NMFRC and fill out an application.
"That's what I did and, lo and behold, they are going to put a new roof on," she said Saturday as workers were screening in her front porch. "They are going to start on Monday. I need it. All the materials were donated, and the labor. They've done it all."
Robbins has many a rundown home occupied by families who simply cannot afford needed - and sometimes necessary - repairs.
Whole families pitched in, including the children. Over on Green Street, young Sabrina Polido was sweeping the house's front porch. Nearby, Ezekial Mercado was busy mixing mortar in a wheelbarrow for use bricking up its foundation. Other children proudly pointed to flowers they'd just planted in a front yard garden.
Dave Bock, originally from Ohio but for 19 years a resident of Pinehurst, was one of the volunteers working at this location. This is a combined project of Habitat and the center. This house is getting new windows in addition to rehabbing the sagging porch.
Once it gets the windows, the house can be winterized with a new heating system. At present, it has none. The work is a step-by-step process: foundation first, then windows, then heat.
Volunteers first used a pressure washer to clean mold from the existing foundation. Then, they rebuilt two piers beneath the home. On Saturday, they were about to brick in its base with a new wall. Bricks waited, stacked in readiness as Mercado proudly pushed his shovel back and forth mixing sand, cement and water.
Before planting flowers, other volunteers "amended" the soil for the garden.
"It had so much clay in it," worker Barbara Yearby said. "We brought compost from home to mix with the dirt. I told the children it was just like mixing flour to make a cake."
Then, the children planted their pansies.
Yearby was director of the preschool at Episcopal Day School in Southern Pines for the past seven years. Now she works for the center as program director.
"We have an after-school program at Robbins Elementary and at Elise Middle School," she said. "They do reading enrichment. Then they do a math and science enrichment. Every day they do their homework; we have teachers with them."
She and NMFRC Director Claire Ruggles hope to build on the bilingual nature of the Robbins area population to help children teach each other their native languages while they're young.
"In preschool, that would give them a huge advantage," Yearby said. "If we could intervene before they have to start public school, that would be a huge advantage to them. And it's fun; learning has to be fun. That's what it is."
But Ruggles realized that assisting the children's education was only going so far if they had substandard living conditions to go home to. That's what made the partnership with Habitat such an easy thing to do.
Slowly, one home at a time, Robbins is coming back to life.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or email@example.com.
More like this story