Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria-Jose Subiria
Parts of a vintage Morrow neighborhood are currently being upgraded by 21 university students, who are volunteering their time during their spring break, to help improve a community.
Students from Boston College, in Chestnut Hill, Mass., are renovating the exterior of Woodstone Condominiums, located at 6437 Woodstone Terrace, Morrow, said Marti Tracy, code enforcement officer for the Morrow Police Department.
The renovations will continue until Thursday, and residents will be provided with a "big reveal" on Friday, she said. "The Boston College kids were a great opportunity to provide some much-needed assistance," said Tracy.
However, because of inclement weather on Tuesday, Tracy said, the students were unable to continue their exterior renovation project at the condominiums, and instead, volunteered to help out at a variety of locations in Morrow. They were divided into three groups, and did volunteer projects in three different locations, including Morrow Elementary School, Woodstone Condominiums and the Morrow Police Department, she said.
According to Tracy, students who volunteered at Morrow Elementary School read to a class of fourth-grade students. Those who remained at Woodstone Condominiums assisted a single mother with cosmetic work inside her unit. The other students reorganized a warehouse at the Morrow Police Department.
"I think it is important to keep a perspective on other communities in the world," said Elizabeth Van Pelt, a sophomore at Boston College. "Within the time that we are here, we will see a big difference in the work that we do."
Tracy said the there are three roll-off dumpsters on-site at the condominium complex, so that students are able to discard the residents' unwanted, or abandoned items that are placed outside, or left on patios and surrounding areas of vacant units.
Students are raking leaves, pine needles and other debris from front, and back patio enclosures, she said. The clearing of debris in patio areas will let storm water flow properly, she said, which is essential to prevent wood from rotting and additional physical damage to properties, due to settling water.
"I think for the community itself, it helps them out a lot," said Taryn LeRoy, a freshman at Boston College, who was recently raking leaves at a patio area of a condominium. "And also for students to come down here and see what is going on, and come back [Boston College] and talk about it, it spreads the knowledge of what's going on in other places."
Tracy said other renovation projects, in which students are participating, includes re-painting approximately two buildings, minor carpentry work in various areas, and assisting residents with interior renovations when the weather outside is not hospitable to exterior work.
The condominiums were built around 1965, said D.J. Dunn, president of the Woodstone Condominiums Association. Dunn, who owns five units at the complex, said the association has been unable to appropriately maintain the neighborhood, due to a lack of funds. Some of the units are foreclosed, or vacant, he said.
In conjunction with the renovation project, Woodstone Condominiums will become a Proud Respected Unified Desirable (PROUD) Neighborhood and have a Neighborhood Watch Program, according to officials with the Morrow Business and Tourism Association. It will be the first neighborhood in Morrow to have a Neighborhood Watch Program, they said.
"This is the first of many to come," said Officer Damion Hampson, of the Morrow Police Department.
Hampson said the PROUD Neighborhood designation was created by the Morrow Police Department approximately six years ago. It ties into the police department's Neighborhood Watch Program, according to Hampson. The combined program is designed to assist communities in becoming more involved with maintaining safe and crime-free neighborhoods. Eventually, all current PROUD Neighborhoods will have a Neighborhood Watch Program, said Hampson.
Mike Twomey, president and executive director of the Morrow Business and Tourism Association, said the City of Morrow is hosting the Boston College students during their six-day visit. The students are currently housed in the community room of Morrow City Hall, he said.
A variety of local churches, restaurants, and individuals have donated food, to provide the students with meals, he added.
Jim D'Amdra, co-leader of the volunteer group, said the project was made possible through Appalachia Volunteers of Boston College, a program created at the university to assist needy individuals and communities. D'Amdra said Boston College students renovated the homes of two residents last year, and are glad to return to the Morrow community to participate in another service project.
"It [project] is a little different, as far as we are not working inside people's homes, but we are working outside .. helping a lot more people as well," he said. "I definitely fell in love with the community that is the City of Morrow."