Home Make-Over From Rebuilding Together and Sherwin-Williams

Article by Gary Alan Ruse, Community Newspapers, November 6, 2007

Joyeria Willis proud homeowner and her three grandchildren.

oyeria Willis, age 46, who has been living in the same house in Coconut Grove for the past 41 years, received a much-appreciated home make-over from the new partnership of Rebuilding Together and Sherwin- Williams as part of their Safe and Healthy Homes Initiative.

The nation's largest home rehabilitation organization teamed up with one of the largest paint manufacturers to help get the word out on home based environmental hazards such as lead paint, pests and mold, and with the help of CLEARCorps and student volunteers from the University of Miami, they completely repainted Willis's home inside and out, as well as providing new toilets and sinks in two of the home's bathrooms.

Willis raised nine children in the home and currently has four grandchildren living with her, ages 4 – 12, so having a living environment free of lead-based paint and other toxins was very important.

CLEARCorps is an organization dedicated to eliminating lead hazards in homes and educating families on the dangers of lead paint, pests and mold. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of homes across the country, at the very least, have problems such as these that are hazardous to the health of children and adults.

The significance of the event brought out Miami Mayor Manuel A Diaz, President and CEO of Rebuilding Together Gary A. Officer, Chairman and CEO of Sherwin-Williams Christopher M. Connor and others for a news conference held Saturday October 27 at Tucker Elementary School at 3500 Douglas Road, adjacent to the home, following the work.

Front (left to right):Gary Officer, CEO Rebuilding Together National, Mayor Manny Diaz, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, Joyeria Willis Homeowner, Bob Hillebrand GSD Construction, Chris Connor CEO Sherwin Williams, Bob Miller President Rebuilding Together Miami.

Joyeria Willis was clearly overwhelmed, not only by the improvements to her home but also by the fact that so many strangers would pitch in and help out.

"I've lived in this house since I was four years old, and it hasn't been an easy task trying to raise my children and trying to be the best grandmother, and holding on to my faith," Willis said. "Today I feel highly blessed and truly favored. I thank God for all of you coming out, taking time from your busy schedules. You see young and old, and

I thank God for every last one of you."
Gary A. Officer addressed the group and thanked everyone for participating. "We are here today at the Willis's home because we recognize the importance of making sure that American families live in warmth and safety and dry homes This shows the power of the collaboration between corporations and non-profit organizations."

Christopher M. Connor said that Sherwin-Williams had a long history of community involvement in Miami since its first stores in the area in the 1940's and a program they created that trained disadvantaged residents to become professional painters.

"This program took off like a rocket here in Miami and is now in more than 30 cities across the United States," Connor said. "In college there was Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs that first proposed the idea that people can aspire to do great things and reach their full potential only after their basic needs are satisfied. Without proper maintenance, a home that should provide shelter and security can in fact become a threat to the family's safety. The good news is that these threats are entirely preventable with heightened homeowner awareness and education and regularly performed maintenance. We are very proud to support Rebuilding Together and to be part of this important mission across the country."

Guy DeJohn of GSB Contracting was one of those working on the project and was glad to participate.

"South Florida has been very good to us over the years, and any opportunity to give back a little bit is a great pleasure to us as a family based business," DeJohn said.

James McCants, who is also a member of the South Miami CRA, appreciated the efforts of everyone involved.

From left to right: Matt McAloon, Emerson Fales and Sue Delgado.

"I'm very grateful for the people that turned out, Sherwin-Williams and Countrywide, for being a part of a beautiful effort to help the people that really need the help," said McCants. "When we touch the people of lesser means, and elderly and handicapped folks, this is a void, this is a seat at a table that's virtually untouched. When you have an organization that's committed to do things like this to help the wellbeing, safety and the handicapped accessibility of these people, free of charge, it's wonderful. We need help, we need participation, we need encouragement and we need a voice at the table."

Robert J. Wells of Sherwin-Williams said that people can learn more about lead paint hazards and solutions at www.rebuildingtogether.org and also at www.Sherwin.com.


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