United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Strong Neighborhoods Impact Council has been awarded $107,830 from the CenterPoint Energy Foundation to launch a community home repair program called Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors (WVNHN) will match residents who have small fix-it projects with volunteers who have the skills and time to repair them. In addition to providing home repairs, WVNHN will serve as a way for residents to connect with one another, and to feel safe and cared for. WVNHN will begin in Terre Haute’s Ryves neighborhood and then expand to other neighborhoods in United Way’s six-county service area. United Way aims to launch the new program and have the new website up and running by spring 2023.
Homeowners will be able to submit their repair requests via a user-friendly Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors website. Generally, the repair projects should be easily completed by individuals or groups and not require special tools or advanced skills. Volunteers will use the website to identify projects and sign up to work on them. In addition to connecting volunteers to projects, the website will contain helpful resources and track the number of projects underway. United Way will purchase a license for the website from Community One, a nonprofit organization in Evansville that launched Neighbors Helping Neighbors in its own city a few years ago.
CenterPoint Energy Foundation funds will enable United Way to create a new coordinator position to form partnerships with local neighborhood organizations. The coordinator will also manage project intake and the website, and mobilize and screen volunteers. In addition, CenterPoint Energy Foundation funds will be used to defray initial costs of repair materials and tools, program marketing, and the website license. United Way looks forward to collaborating with individuals and organizations already active in their neighborhoods and investing in their energy and talents.
The new program will accept requests for basic home repair and maintenance projects for neighbors who own and live in their homes. In addition to home repair, examples could include basic yard cleanup, landscaping, and snow removal; moving assistance and basic transportation for shopping or running errands; technology or paperwork assistance; or a friendly phone call or visit.
Martha Crossen, co-chair of United Way’s Strong Neighborhood Impact Council, said, “We’re extremely grateful for CenterPoint Energy Foundation’s commitment to neighborhood revitalization, and we appreciate the support they’re giving us to launch this new program. Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors will be an effective way to take care of home repair issues and give residents a helping hand. We’re looking forward to bringing people and organizations together to improve the quality of life and strengthen sense of community.”
Dorothy Chambers, United Way’s Community Impact Senior Staff, commented, “The investment that CenterPoint Energy is making in Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors demonstrates the tremendous good that can happen when businesses and nonprofits work together to revitalize and strengthen our neighborhoods. We appreciate our continued partnership with CenterPoint Energy and value their investment in our work across the Wabash Valley. We’re looking forward to developing the program over the next few months so that it’s ready to launch this spring.”
Studies show that even minor home improvements benefit residents’ physical and mental health, re-instill a sense of pride and belonging in their community, and increase safety and independence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe home repairs for low-income households as a high-impact strategy for addressing root causes of poor physical and mental health. Moreover, home repairs and modifications allow people with disabilities, veterans, and older adults to avoid institutional care and stay in their homes. Home repairs are an effective way to address crime through non-police interventions. When a low-income home is repaired, the property value increases, benefitting the entire neighborhood.
United Way’s Strong Neighborhoods Impact Council seeks to create a positive impact for struggling working families by investing in initiatives that provide our community with safe, vibrant, and inclusive neighborhoods. Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors aligns well with this goal and demonstrates United Way’s long-term commitment to the revitalization of Ryves and other neighborhoods in West Central Indiana.