Sometimes, the lazy, selfish thing to do is still the right thing to do. I’ve volunteered twice now with Westside Ministries-Housing, and I plan on doing it again–and it’s not really because of the difference it makes for other people (although I am glad to help people own a home), it’s all about what I get.
Each time, I’ve volunteered, I’ve met some good people, had a nice snack, learned a new skill, and left with an “I’ve done something good” buzz. As much as I love a night out at a local restaurant, I have to admit that this is more bang for less buck (none, to be exact).
To come out, you need neither experience nor tools. All it takes is a call to Gary, the Project Manager, and he can set you up to work on a Thursday night (between 5 and 9) or a Saturday morning (starting at 8). He can be reached at 716-604-2115.
“It’s hands-on, it’s quick, it’s an opportunity that’s always there, there are always skilled and un-skilled projects available for people that want to help,” says Cornelia Dohse-Peck, the Executive Director.
And even though Westside Ministries Inc. was started by a church, and is motivated by faith, it is open to all people. “We can accommodate any group,” Cornelia says, “Dog walkers, veterans, a cooking class . . .whomever.”
“We want to stabilize the West Side.”
Westside Ministries-Housing does this by purchasing distressed homes, repairing them, and selling them at a price that is low enough that a mortgage is still below what most people have to pay for rent.
They work hand-in-hand with new homeowners, many of whom are refugees, to help them through buying and ownership. They have also worked with the City Mission to help two men move from homelessness to homeownership.
And the neighborhood? “It’s peaceful, really peaceful. Homeownership breeds stability,” says Cornelia, who lives near where Westside Ministries-Housing is working.
I’m going to be bringing some people from my church (Lafayette) every Thursday these next few weeks, and you are invited to join, too.
People’s lives change when they own a home, and neighborhoods change, too. And Westside Ministries-Housing has made it easy and fun to be a part of that change.
Of course, they aren’t the only group working on the West Side. They are one of many organizations working together in the Westside Housing Partnership. Look here for articles about other member organizations, or stop by at the April 25th Housing Fair at the Belle Center (104 Maryland St) from 10am until noon.