Wills Group part­ners with Re­build­ing To­gether for home im­prove­ment

Lo­cal groups re­pair houses in the area

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

The Wills Group and Re­build­ing To­gether Charles County joined forces Wed­nes­day to re­pair and re­model a pair of homes in the area, as­sist­ing lo­cal res­i­dents who could not make nec­es­sary im­prove­ments them­selves.

Vol­un­teers from both groups ar­rived at the two lo­ca­tions in La Plata and White Plains, do­ing yard work and restora­tion in­side and out­side of the houses. Lowe’s do­nated ma­te­ri­als for the event, and ad­di­tional sup­port was pro­vided by em­ploy­ees from Charles County Master Gar­den­ers, Cor­ley Roof­ing, Green Grav­ity Clean­ing, Nutwell Trash, Pot­ter Heat­ing and Elec­tric and United Site Ser­vices.

“We part­ner with other groups to com­bine re­sources so that we can bring houses up to stan­dards to make them com­fort­able and liv­able for ever ybody,” said Re­build­ing To­gether Charles County Vice Pres­i­dent Bernie Sewell. “It helps the or­ga­ni­za­tions that [part­ner] with us to show the com­mu­nity they’re in­volved and that they

care about the com­mu­nity in which they have their busi­nesses, so it’s a win­win for ev­ery­body.”

Re­build­ing To­gether Charles County is the new ti­tle for the lo­cal Christ­mas in April op­er­a­tion, which aims to serve el­derly and dis­abled home­own­ers through home re­pair and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. The re­brand­ing will al­low the or­ga­ni­za­tion to pro­vide year­round ser­vices, no longer con­strained to a sin­gle month of char­ity work.

The Wills Group owns sev­eral com­pa­nies in Mary­land, Vir­ginia and Delaware, in­clud­ing SMO En­ergy and Dash In. The cor­po­ra­tion re­cently launched its Safe and Healthy Homes Com­mu­nity Ini­tia­tive, seek­ing to bet­ter homes in the re­gion. Shared mis­sions made the two ideal part­ners, es­pe­cially as they try to es­tab­lish phil­an­thropic roots in Charles County.

Vol­un­teers made ma­jor al­ter­ations to the La Plata home of Shirley Jen­nifer, com­pletely re­plac­ing the back pa­tio as well as in­stalling an in­te­rior heat­ing sys­tem. Jen­nifer has lived in the house for more than 30 years, and its only heat in the win­ter months came from two kerosene lamps. The work­ers also re­moved shrub­bery, painted the in­door walls and pur­chased new fur­ni­ture for the home. They plan to replace the roof next week.

“To­day’s ex­pe­ri­ence has been mind-blow­ing. It’s a won­der­ful thing,” said Bar­bara Dil­lard, one of Jen­nifer’s five chil­dren.

Dil­lard vis­its her mother ev­ery day, pre­par­ing meals and mon­i­tor­ing her medicine in­take. She has fi­nanced sev­eral re­pairs on the home, even pour­ing her re­tire­ment fund into its up­keep. Dil­lard sent in the ap­pli­ca­tion to Re­build­ing To­gether and was the pri­mary point of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the par­ties.

“She des­per­ately needed this help,” said Dil­lard, a Wal­dorf res­i­dent. “I want her to be com­fort­able with what­ever time she has left.”

Dur­ing a break in the ac­tion, Wills Group rep­re­sen­ta­tives pre­sented a check for $15,000 to Re­build­ing To­gether Charles County. The grant will fund im­prove­ments on both houses and also con­trib­ute to fu­ture projects for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Work­ing with Re­build­ing To­gether has been great be­cause they are in touch with the needs of lo­cal home­own­ers and lo­cal com­mu­nity mem­bers that need help the most,” said Bri­ana Jat­low, a Wills Group em­ployee and a mem­ber of the newly-formed Safe and Healthy Homes com­mit­tee.

Fol­low­ing the check pre­sen­ta­tion, Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Amanda Ste­wart (D) be­stowed an of­fi­cial ci­ta­tion upon the Wills Group thank­ing them for their con­tri­bu­tions to the county.

“The county com­mis­sion­ers honor your com­mit­ment and ded­i­cated com­mu­nity ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ties and the res­i­dents of Charles County,” said Ste­wart, read­ing from the cer­tifi­cate. Her hus­band, Alvin Ste­wart, is the pres­i­dent of Re­build­ing To­gether Charles County.

Both groups hope to work to­gether go­ing for­ward, likely through ad­di­tional home im­prove­ment projects.

“It’s a nice way to give back to the com­mu­nity we try to serve,” said Michele Wills, vol­un­teer and wife of Wills Group CEO J. Black­lock Wills. “It’s re­ally neat to get to know this fam­ily. Ev­ery time I go by here it’s go­ing to have this new mean­ing for me, and hope­fully if they see any of us it will be a new mean­ing for them.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

Above, a Wills Group vol­un­teer trims and mea­sures a board for the pa­tio at Shirley Jen­nifer’s house in La Plata. Be­low, Wills Group vol­un­teers lay the ground­work for a new pa­tio.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

Wills Group vol­un­teers (in red) present a check for $15,000 to Re­build­ing To­gether Charles County to use to­ward home im­prove­ments on two houses in the county. Shirley Jen­nifer, with the blue hat, owns the La Plata home that re­ceived re­pairs.

Wills Group vol­un­teers per­form yard work at Shirley Jen­nifer’s house in La Plata.

Wills Group vol­un­teers groom shrub­bery near Shirley Jen­nifer’s house in La Plata.

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