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Volunteers reveal renovated Morrow home

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

A Morrow home was abuzz Wednesday as 17 volunteers from Boston College put the finishing touches on a three-day renovation project for a local woman in need of help keeping up her aging residence.

The 17 Boston College students volunteered their time, during their spring break, to help Yvonne Martin, 62, who is unable to do the projects on her own. Martin's home, on Stratford Arms Circle, was one of two chosen by City of Morrow leaders for the renovation help.

Among other improvements, volunteers replaced the screening and flooring on her back porch, touched up the landscaping in her yard, replaced her worn refrigerator and installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The students surrounded Martin when she returned home Wednesday afternoon.

"I want to say more than thank you, but the only words I could think of is I love you," said Martin, who had been staying in a local hotel while the volunteers worked.

The students led Martin around her home pointing out the repairs and changes they made.

"This is better than Christmas," said Laura DiPisa, a 21-year-old senior.

The volunteers are part of the Appalachia Volunteers Program at Boston College, which has a total of 622 members working on 35 different sites in the Southeast region.

Martin, who has had diabetes since the age of 20, said diabetic neuropathy and lymphedema has prevented her from some activities.

"It developed five years ago, and if I were to walk for a long time, my legs would get charley horses," said Martin. "My friends from church would come over and clean the house for me."

According to Martin, her parents bought the house in 1977, and when her father passed away, she moved in with her son in 1992 to take care of her mother. Her son, who is undergoing chemotherapy for oral cancer, is currently living with her.

"I am relieved because she needed this more than anyone I know, and I am not just saying this because she's my mother," said Charles Blackmon.

While renovations took place, Martin's two dogs were sheltered, bathed, groomed and given their shots, compliments of Morrow Animal Hospital.

"I feel nothing but love, and God is love," said Martin.

City of Morrow Code Enforcement Officer Marti Tracy chose the two homes to be renovated this week.

"I am very familiar with the exterior conditions of homes in Morrow," said Tracy. "As code enforcement officer, I am responsible for quality-of-life issues, property maintenance, animal control, business licenses and city code ordinances."

Originally, there were four homes to be renovated this week, while the students are in town, but two families declined because they would not allowed to be present during the renovations.

"The people that declined opened up opportunities to do more for her [Martin]," Tracy said.

The volunteers contributed to the costs of the repairs, as did the City of Morrow Housing Authority.

"We've had small donations as well," said Tracy.

She said John Marxen, of the construction company Marxen Services, assessed the needs of the home and helped with supplies.

Son Nguyen, permits administrator for the City of Morrow, also helped lead volunteers in the renovation project.

"What I enjoyed most is this house being transformed, and working with these people that have taught me how to put rooms together," said Erika Boltz, a junior at Boston College. "They are the phenomenal people here."

The volunteers will start working on the second home today, on Peacock Boulevard.