Volunteers help build a 'healthier' Sulphur Springs

Volunteers help beautify homes for elderly and low-income residents.
Published July 19 2016
Updated July 19 2016

TAMPA — An army of good Samaritans finished sprucing up 23 homes along Waters Avenue in Sulphur Springs this week, working under a blistering sun to apply paint, make repairs, install new mailboxes and mow lawns for elderly and low-income residents.

"I think that it's very hot, for sure, but it's awesome to see that the kids still come out here, and they work so hard even in the heat,'' said Hannah Wells, 20, a volunteer from Henderson, N.C., doing mission work for World Changers, a Christian outreach organization.

"It really shows their heart for serving Tampa.''

The project was coordinated by Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, which recruits volunteers from varied sources, many from local corporations. The nonprofit organization takes on about 100 projects a year, said volunteer coordinator Jeremy Twachtman.

Twachtman, a towering man of 31 with a bushy red beard, said it's the first time his organization has used World Changers volunteers, and he's impressed with their work ethic, calling them "a wonderful group.'' More than 120 volunteers worked on the homes.

The project, dubbed "Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs,'' is part of an effort to improve the overall appearance of the community.

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay will soon deploy volunteers to construct 18 affordable single-family homes in Sulphur Springs as part of a city of Tampa project.

Each home they improved this week received a Healthy Home Kit, which included installing smoke alarms, providing fire extinguishers, weather stripping, grab bars and non-skid mats in bathrooms, levered door knobs for those with arthritis, and other items and services.

One happy beneficiary of the work was Ivy Loray, 28, a single mother who lives with her three children in a small home off Waters. Volunteers painted her house, mowed the lawn, put up a mailbox and, in her Healthy Home Kit, provided her with her child-proofing covers for electrical outlets and a motion-sensor light for the back yard.

She was impressed by the strategy of using a swarm of volunteers to refurbish homes in need:

"Whoever thought of it, it was brilliant.''

Contact Philip Morgan at pmorgan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3435.