Martha’s Place project for LifeStyles is a suc­cess

Lo­cal busi­nesses and com­mu­nity com­bine ef­forts to ren­o­vate White Plains women’s shel­ter

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIFFANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­

LifeStyles, Inc. is known for as­sist­ing ci­ti­zens of the South­ern Mary­land re­gion dur­ing their time of need. When the or­ga­ni­za­tion had heat­ing, elec­tri- cal and plumb­ing is­sues oc­cur at their women and chil­dren’s shel­ter lo­cated in Charles County, many lo­cal busi- nesses as well as a lo­cal church rushed to their aid.

For six years LifeStyles, Inc. has owned Martha’s Place, a women and chil­dren’s shel­ter lo­cated in White Plains which houses three women and sev­eral chil­dren. Sandy Wash­ing­ton, LifeStyles, Inc. ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said the name of the home is a bib­li­cal ref­er­ence to Martha who made sure things in the house­hold were in order and worked to have a tran­quil place to live in. How­ever, Wash­ing­ton said the tran­quil home these fam­i­lies needed at Martha’s place was fall­ing apart be­fore their very eyes.

“The drive­way was so bad it had pot­holes and was dan­ger­ous. We couldn’t imag­ine get­ting women and chil­dren

up and down that drive­way in case of an emer- gency. In ad­di­tion, the well went out so there was no wa­ter. We had just paid an un­be­liev­able amount to get a pump put in be­cause we thought that was the prob­lem but there was still no run­ning wa­ter,” Wash­ing­ton said.

The staff at LifeStyles, Inc. had to move the wom- en and chil­dren out of the shel­ter and have them stay in a ho­tel. With so many over­whelm­ing re­pairs and fam­i­lies in need of shel­ter and as­sis­tance, Wash­ing- ton reached out to The Wills Group for help.

Ju­lian Blay­lock “Lock” Wills Jr., chair­man and CEO of The Wills Group, his wife Michele Wills, and risk man­ager at The Wills Group Brooke Rie­man, co­or­di­nated the Martha’s Place con­struc- tion project, held on Dec. 14, in order to make the shel­ter more liv­able for moth­ers and their chil- dren to dwell in.

“It re­ally took my breath away,” Wash­ing­ton said. “The Wills Group said they wanted to make ev- ery­thing re­ally nice for these ladies and in­crease the ca­pac­ity of the house. They kept see­ing the is- sues and kept pro­vid­ing. That was such a faith boost for me. God sends peo­ple your way and how ap­pro­pri­ate see­ing this mir­a­cle hap­pen this hol­i­day sea­son. Mir­a­cle af­ter mir­a­cle hap­pen­ing through peo­ple.”

The Wills Group con- tacted Adrian Ruiz, owner of Ruiz Con­tract­ing LLC, who was able to get 80100 gal­lons of paint do­nat- ed by Sher­win Williams in Waldorf. Adrian Ruiz, owner of Ruiz Con­tract­ing LLC, said he was more than happy to com­bine ef­forts with The Wills Group and help paint the ceil­ing of the shel­ter.

“We were able to put to­gether a crew of 30 peo­ple from The Wills Group to do many things around the home, such as — paint en­tire house, in­stall smoke de­tec­tors/ car­bon monox­ide de­tec- tors through­out, add a handrail go­ing down the stairs to the out­side base­ment en­trance, clean up the yard, rake leaves, trim bushes, spread­ing out mulch in the flower beds, clean out the gut­ters, paint some out­side fas- cia, in­stall a storm door, re­pair loose wiring in the base­ment, in­stall cover plates on ex­posed out­lets and board up a hole in the barn,” Rie­man said.

Lock said his compa- ny had al­ready been plan­ning to get more in­volved in the com­mu­nity through com­mu­nity en­gage­ment pro­grams. His wife Michele was help­ing to pull up weeds and lay down mulch dur­ing the project.

“I can’t be­lieve how much got done in a day at that house,” Michele said. “I felt even bet­ter be­cause at least that house will be up and run­ning again for moth­ers and chil­dren who are home­less and that would help Sandy have more time to work on their cases and get them into more per­ma­nent hous­ing. Its good to help (Wash­ing­ton) do her job and I think it was ex­cit­ing for ev­ery­one to go and try to do some­thing to make life bet­ter for peo­ple who need it.”

Rie­man said Chaney En­ter­prises de­liv­ered truck- loads of gravel to fix the pot­hole is­sue on the 2,400 square foot drive­way of the shel­ter.

“(Wash­ing­ton) was look­ing for a lot of ma­te­rial in a short time frame but we pulled to­gether our per­son­nel and re­sources in a short time frame and de­liv­ered 220 tons of re­cy­cled con­crete,” said Erica Biser, mar­ket­ing project manag- er at Chaney En­ter­prises. “Even our in­de­pen­dent haulers do­nated their truck time to de­liver sev- eral loads of the ma­te­rial. When we see so many benev­o­lent mem­bers of the com­mu­nity come to­gether and re­ju­ve­nate a home­less shel­ter in such a small amount of time; it gives us a true sense of the hol­i­day spirit.”

The Wills Group, along with Hash Con­struc­tion, helped with con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the day. The Wills Group re­ceived help from Frank’s Well Drilling who started the drilling process for the well on Dec. 16. On Dec. 28, af­ter drilling 900 feet, the com­pany fi­nal- ly hit wa­ter. Rie­man said the well will be up and run­ning by the end of De­cem­ber.

Belt­way Elec­tric and Leo Bean Plumb­ing were also able to vol­un­teer their time to take care of elec­tric and plumb­ing is­sues at the shel­ter.

In the mean­time, the Smith Chapel United Methodist Church lo­cat- ed in La Plata has been help­ing to pro­vide shel­ter for the women and chil- dren while the shel­ter is go­ing through this ren­o­va­tion process. Wash­ing- ton said the or­ga­ni­za­tion could not af­ford any­more ho­tel stays. Pas­tor Ge­orge DeFord of­fered the church’s three bed­room house for their use.

“(Wash­ing­ton) told us in Novem­ber about their well sit­u­a­tion, and since we al­ready par­tic­i­pate in Safe Nights with LifeStyles we just said come on and use it for as long as you need to or un­til you get the sit­u­a­tion rec­ti­fied,” DeFord said. “We wel­comed them in and they are able to uti­lize bed­rooms, kitchen, baths and a liv­ing room, for a small do­na­tion to the church’s min­istry. It was a mat­ter of car­ry­ing out the eth­i­cal man­date of Matthew 25 and we are a vi­tal church. Be­ing vi­tal means we are do­ing min­istry that meets the needs of the peo­ple.”

Vol­un­teers from The Wills Group, Aphrodice Mu­soni, Briana Jat­low, and Michele Wills, wife of Lock Wills, chair­man and CEO of The Wills Group, at Martha’s Place help­ing to rake leaves and pull weeds on Dec. 14.

On Dec. 14, John Davis, HASH Con­struc­tion, op­er­at­ing the or­ange and White Bob­cat to help pave the drive­way at Martha’s Place women and chil­dren’s shel­ter in White Plains.

On Dec. 14, Jon McKeel Sr. and John McKeel Jr. from HASH Con­struc­tion di­rect­ing the dump truck onto the prop­erty at Martha’s Place women and chil­dren’s shel­ter.

Martha’s Place cur­rently has much bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions af­ter ren­o­va­tions were made to the shel­ter with help from The Wills Group and other lo­cal busi­nesses in Charles County.

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