United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Strong Neighborhoods Impact Council launched a community home repair program called Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors (WVNHN). The program will match residents with small fix-it projects to volunteers with 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 Vigo County and then expand to other neighborhoods in United Way’s six-county service area.
Homeowners can submit their repair requests via the user-friendly Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors website, wvnhn.org. 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 contains helpful resources and tracks the number of projects underway. The new program accepts requests for basic home repair and maintenance projects for neighbors who own and live in their home. In addition to home repair, examples could include basic yard cleanup, landscaping, and snow removal; furniture assemblies; technology or paperwork assistance; or a friendly phone call or visit.
The United Way created a new program coordinator position to form partnerships with local neighborhood organizations thanks to CenterPoint Energy grant funds. WVNHN coordinator Schelia Romanelly manages project intakes, the website, and mobilizes and screens volunteers. United Way looks forward to collaborating with individuals and organizations already active in their neighborhoods and investing in their energy and talents.
WVNHN Coordinator Schelia Romanelly states, “I’m most excited to stand beside a program that I strongly believe can make a difference in how we view our neighbors. Rosa Parks stated “What really matters is not whether we have problems, but how we go through them. We must keep going on to make it through whatever we are facing.” Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors will connect and empower people to care for one another.”
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 outside care and to
stay in their homes. When a home is repaired, the property value increases, benefitting the entire neighborhood.
Martha Crossen, co-chair of United Way’s Strong Neighborhood Impact Council, said, “We’re extremely grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have supported the 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.”
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. The Wabash Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors aligns with this goal and demonstrates United Way’s long-term commitment to strengthening the Wabash Valley.