12:14 PM

Students Helping Rebuild Homes in Houston


By Mike Emery

 A home isn't just a place to eat and sleep. For many individuals, a house, condo or apartment is where memories are made and families are raised. As homeowners age, so do their homes … and it's not always easy for them to handle the necessary maintenance.

Thanks to University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) students, a few Houston homeowners will receive a helping hand in repairing their longtime residences. UHD's Black Student Association (BSA) is partnering with Rebuilding Together Houston on this project. Their work began on April 22, helping an 84 year-old homeowner in the city's Sunnyside neighborhood. They began painting and replacing wood on her home.

Nelandon Gregory, UHD BSA President, said that the homeowner was enthusiastic about the assistance provided by students and Rebuilding Together Houston.

"If I could rate her excitement on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 25," he said. "She's definitely ready for her house to be fixed up."

While the BSA is leading this initiative, Gregory invites volunteers from the campus community to lend a hand. He encourages faculty, staff and students, as well as fellow Houstonians to support BSA's efforts in helping a neighbor in need. Volunteers can sign up at this link or contact Gregory at nelandong@yahoo.com.

Not a handy person? No problem, Gregory said. Projects will be assigned based on volunteers' skill levels. Also, team members from Rebuilding Together Houston will be on hand to offer instruction.

Fixing homes isn't a part of UHD's curriculum, but community service is indeed carved into the University's culture. Gregory, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, said that the experience of helping Houstonians through home repairs offers students several learning opportunities.

"Volunteering for projects like this builds your skills in engineering, leadership and collaborating," he said. "Our organization mentors young people and feeds the homeless. Rebuilding the community is a logical next step for us."

Gregory is a second-generation UHD Gator. His mother attended the University, so he was familiar with the institution. She's proud of his efforts this weekend, but not surprised considering he worked with his father providing landscaping services since he was in middle school.

Rebuilding Together Houston is providing the paint, wood, tools and other materials necessary for the home repairs. Gregory said, however, that BSA would take donations of bottled water to take with them on future trips to the Sunnyside project. To donate water, contact Gregory.

BSA will work in Sunnyside on April 22, 29 and May 6. Volunteers meet in UHD's Daly Parking Lot on Saturday mornings at 8:45 a.m. and carpool to the site. Following this project, BSA will team with Rebuilding Together Houston Northside to work on a new home.

"We're pleased to help others such as this homeowner in Sunnyside," he said. "Although we are very active on campus, it's important to provide hands on assistance to those in the community."