By Marc Takacs
2011 was the first full year of the East Atlanta Neighbor In Need initiative’s existence and it was an eventful one. A lot of time was spent keeping seniors in the East Atlanta neighborhood in their homes, but there also was a lot of work that went into creating infrastructure, fundraising, and just generally figuring out the policies and procedures to make a sustainable and successful organization. The annual pumpkin sale was successful as every locally grown pumpkin was in high demand. Members of the City Church Eastside, EAV residents, and aspiring brew masters threw a party to sample their work and donated the proceeds to Neighbor in Need. The big news was the East Atlanta Beer Festival’s grant, which is crucial for the work but also lends legitimacy to the organization because the grant committee there is really on top of things and doesn’t just give money away without a purpose. Neighbor in Need wants to send thanks to all of its partners and supporters this year and is looking forward to even bigger things in 2012.
Two big projects were just completed that are great examples of the Neighbor In Need’s work in the community. Project one was for a long-time resident who lives on Monument Avenue. Her roof was leaking in multiple places, she didn’t have a kitchen sink, a working water heater or working toilet, and her electrical system was shorting out. This dangerous situation was in part created by a contractor who didn’t complete the work the homeowner had paid for with all the money she had. This put the homeowner in a tough spot. Neighbor in Need, along with contracting partners Year ‘Round Repairs and Two Twigs Plumbing, stepped in to make the necessary repairs. The home is now a safe and comfortable environment, and the weight has been lifted off her shoulders.
The second was another longtime resident on Brownwood Avenue who, because of health problems and the state of the economy, was unable to maintain his home and had actually been cited by the City of Atlanta. The back wall of his house had actually rotted away and an old garage in his back yard had fallen down. His neighbors had been trying to help out as much as they could. When they heard about Neighbor in Need, they asked if it could help. It took a while to get the project underway but once Neighbors in Need partnered with Michael Sink of Woodology Carpentry and Christopher Leerson of TSW Architecture, progress happened quickly. In addition, many volunteers from Neighbor in Need, Georgia State’s Gerontology department, and the City Church Eastside came together to clear the old building and make extensive repairs to the home over a few weekends in October and November. The homeowner’s neighbors were also instrumental with their assistance and coordination. The back wall was rebuilt, windows and doors replaced, and a lot of rotted framing repaired or replaced. The resident now has a secure home and the city has rescinded its citations.
These are just two of the stories Neighbor in Need has helped to write with happy endings in this year, but there are many others with unhappy endings. Seniors in our community are often targets of predatory contractors or find themselves in difficult circumstances where they have to decide between food in the refrigerator, medical treatment, or home maintenance. Charities like Neighbor in Need act as a safety net to preserve the social diversity of our neighborhood while preventing blighted properties from scarring the local landscape. For more information on Neighbor in Need go to www.eaca.net and look under the Initiatives tab, or look them up on Facebook under Neighbor in Need East Atlanta.
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