LORAIN — Reclaiming neighborhoods from age and decay is a slow process, but a crew of 25 to 30 Home Depot employees, local veterans and neighborhood residents pitched in Friday to do their part by giving a weathered West 18th Street home a new look.
The project is one of dozens of similar service projects being undertaken by Home Depot workers and community members nationally through The Home Depot Foundation as part of a seven-week “Spring into Service” campaign designed to spruce up homes of military veterans.
The volunteers, all wearing bright orange “Home Depot” T-shirts, worked from about 8 a.m. to noon on the home of 83-year-old Korean War veteran Glenn Tiller at the corner of West 18th and Oakdale Avenue.
Lorain Councilman Denis Flores, who was among the workers, recalled walking past Tiller’s home to and from classes at St. Joseph School in the 1960s.
“It’s funny to think about that 40-plus years ago and now we’re here doing this,” Flores said.
Flores regularly walks the neighborhood, and he said it has seen demolition of decaying homes — including one near Tiller’s house — and other steps to reclaim the area and reduce drug trafficking and other crime.
“We’re just trying to stop decline and blight and give residents clean and safe neighborhoods,” Flores said.
Tiller’s home was selected to receive an approximately $12,000 grant after he wrote a letter to the city’s Home Depot store seeking help to replace or repair his leaking roof.
The house also had been identified by the city’s nuisance inspection task force as having fallen into disrepair and in need of a fix-up, according to Mayor Chase Ritenauer.
The roof of the two-story white frame house was replaced earlier as part of the fix-up project that continued Friday with installation and painting of new fencing alongside one side of the house, a new gate at the end of the fence, painting of a portion of the front porch and placing an American flag over the porch.
Some of the workers said Tiller has contended with health problems of late. As a result, Tiller remained inside his home except when he briefly stepped outside to thank the volunteers for their help.
The makeover of Tiller’s home is a small piece of the work made possible over a five-year period during which the Home Depot Foundation has committed more than $80 million, according to Ben Owens, public relations coordinator for the Atlanta-based Home Depot Foundation.
Individual projects range from thousands of dollars to millions, depending on their scope, Owens said.
The Lorain Home Depot donated lawn mowers, a pressure washer, chain saw, rakes, clippers, 60 bags of mulch and “tons of flowers,” according to Linda Johnson, who captained the team of workers along with fellow Home Depot employee Chris Rodriguez and the store’s manager, Edgardo Ayala.
“Everything we donate goes to the city to use on other projects,” Johnson said. “We never take anything back once it goes out for something like this.”
Other volunteers included Vietnam veteran Don Attie, a well-known veterans’ advocate, and members of Nam Veterans Chapter 74.
Ritenauer stopped by the corner earlier in the morning to check out the work.
“It was quite a sight,” Ritenaeur said of the workers as they cleaned out brush and small trees, planted flowers and put down mulch around Tiller’s yard. “They were really helping out a struggling veteran who needed a hand. They have already started to turn the property around.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.