Volunteers help transform homes of long-time Jacksonville families

Jacksonville, FL — Some were students -- while others were members of the community who heard about the project and wanted to help.

“This is going to make our neighborhood shine and brighten it up,” Doretha Tompkins said.

Tompkins has lived in the Riverview community in Northwest Jacksonville for 33 years. She said her home and many others on 4th Avenue really needed the help.

“All of the people we chose and selected are senior citizens,” she said. “They’re on fixed incomes and they could not afford to get their homes painted.”

AmeriCorps members were among up to 50 volunteers who transformed eight homes in the neighborhood.

The Northwest Jacksonville CDC was one group behind the project. Riverview is one of 19 neighborhoods they focus on.

“When neighborhoods start tipping, if we don’t fix up the homes that are here, it kind of feeds the decline,” Paul Tutwiler said. “Those homes that we’re not doing, we expect the other homeowners to start fixing up themselves.”

Volunteer Jaiden Sessions, a Paxon High School senior, said Martin Luther King Jr. Day was the perfect time to give back.

“We are celebrating the life of someone who influenced a lot of people to come together -- of different races, different ages, different generations,” she said.

Tompkins said it’s a blessing that will inspire their community for years to come.

“I can’t find enough adjectives to express in words how much this means to us,” she said. “It just falls right in to the things Martin Luther King believed in. Helping others, caring about other people and to make all of us equal.”

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