2011 City of Decatur MLK Service Project

                I would like to thank all of the city employees who came out this weekend to help with the MLK weekend service project. Each year the Decatur Preservation alliance partners with the City of Decatur to sponsor this gargantuan effort that involves making the homes of Decatur’s senior citizens safer and healthier living environments. The City of Decatur usually selects the home with the greatest safety concerns to be staffed and refurbished by City of Decatur employees. The City of Decatur home for the 2011 MLK project was located at 439 East Pharr Rd and belongs to Dorothy Stephens. She is one of the sweetest people that I’ve ever met and this motivated us to do as much as we could to help improve her domicile.

                Patrick Greer has been the House Captain of the City of Decatur project home for the last 4 years. His seemingly limitless knowledge in the areas of carpentry, electrical, and plumbing is astonishing and his work ethic is impeccable. This year’s project could not have been a success without Patrick and his hands-on approach to his role as House Captain. After an initial assessment of the house, it was determined that the floor beneath that main restroom was rotten due to a leaky toilet and the roof was caving in due to rotten supports in the attic. After an adventure into the crawlspace under the house we noticed that there was a gigantic old furnace that would prevent the installation of a proper vapor barrier and would also prevent us from reinforcing the floor. The attic and the crawl space became the main focus of the weekend even though there were a myriad of other jobs to be done. I was very concerned that our work plan may have been a little too ambitious due to the weather, our need for a large number of volunteers, and time constraints. Saturday morning arrived and I realized that all of my concerns were unnecessary.

                The City of Decatur Public Works Department showed up with what appeared to be their entire staff. It was an amazing site to see. They descended on the home like a giant swarm of locusts. However their purpose was not to destroy, but to rebuild. By the time I arrived at the house they had already cleared the thick layer of ice from the driveway and removed the debris from beneath the house. Next they removed the humungous ancient furnace which left a 10 sq ft hole in the middle of the hallway. Patrick Greer framed the hole and partnered with David Junger, Tony Parker, and Deon Wyche to lay down new hard wood flooring. Sanitation Superintendent Sean Woodson took a lead role in completing one of the hardest tasks of the weekend by installing the plastic vapor barrier in a crawl space that was barely big enough for squirrels. There were so many small jobs on the list that I was sure we would be working until Monday evening, but Derrick Jackson completed many of them with the help of his fellow employees in no time at all. Thanks also to Toni Dixon and Catherine Lee for giving up their time on Saturday to make a number of interior improvements.

                The remainder of the volunteers for the weekend came to us from the Decatur Police Department. On Sunday, Lieutenant Mike Matics and his son sanded and painted the handicap access ramp outside of Mrs. Stephen’ home. On Monday 11 police officers showed up to work. I couldn’t have dreamed for a better group of volunteers because everyone seemed to have a multitude of skills. Joshua Speed finished adding the supports for the bathroom floor in the crawl space, Chuck Gleaton took a lead role in installing the supports for the roof in the attic, and Jonathan Vandiver sanded new hard wood floor in preparation for staining. By the time 11:00 rolled around I had to apologize to all of the officers for the lack of things to do. By 1:00 the house was clean and work plan was complete.

                The 2011 MLK service project weekend was a triumphant success. Sanitation employees, maintenance employees, police officers, and fire fighters have some of the toughest jobs on earth. It is truly a joy and an honor to live in a city where these employees would sacrifice their well deserved days of rest to help make life a little better for those that may not be able to help themselves. There is no way that I can fully express my gratitude for all of you who helped me get through my first year as Patrick’s assistant house captain. Mrs. Stephens is happier and safer because of all of you. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in 2012.

One Response to 2011 City of Decatur MLK Service Project

  1. Cheryl Burnette says:

    Thanks for all of your help too Jabari!

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