World changers to spruce up homes in Anniston, Oxford
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Jul 08, 2013 | 3036 views |  0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last summer, a group of students from around the country descended upon Victoria Williams’ home in western Anniston.

“They painted my whole house, and it’s beautiful,” said Williams, 79.

The students, part of the Southern Baptist Association’s World Changers program, painted Williams’ formerly white house beige and conducted minor repairs on other homes in the city and Oxford.

Another 131 students from around the Southeast, hosted locally by the Calhoun Baptist Association, will arrive in Anniston on Saturday, to repair and spruce up 12 homes, most of which are in western Anniston.

John Thomas, associate director of missions with the association, said the students will spend the weekend training for the maintenance and minor home repair work they’ll face during the following work week.

Thomas said the students will paint homes, replace rotten wood, do yard work, build wheelchair ramps and repair and replace doors and windows.

In Anniston, the homes are cleared through the city as eligible for community development block grants — federal money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and distributed by the city.

The Anniston City Council is set to vote Tuesday on a $12,000 agreement to pay for paint and other building supplies for the students’ work.

Two of the 12 homes targeted for work this year are in Oxford. Thomas said the city of Oxford also budgets up to $10,000 each year for World Changers projects. City officials did not return calls seeking information on this year’s project budget.

Don Hoyt, Annsiton’s city manager, said it would be impractical for the city to tackle the minor repairs itself, either with city workers or through the construction market because the city would have to put the projects out to bid.

“It would become economically infeasible to do lots of little cosmetic repairs for people,” he said.

“They can do it a lot more efficiently with volunteers.”

The students are organized into teams of 11 with two accompanying adults, making sure there is a mix of students from various church groups so they meet new friends while helping people in need, Thomas said.

In a new partnership this year, Thomas said, 36 of Anniston’s summer Parks and Recreation employees will divide into three teams to work on a Cobb Avenue home, clean up some western Anniston neighborhoods and host Bible clubs in recreation centers around the community.

On Wednesday afternoon the students get a break from their schedule to relax for a few hours and can then enjoy a community block party in Zinn Park from 6 p.m until 8 p.m.

The local World Changers initiative is part of a nationwide project of the Southern Baptist Association. Last year, according to the group’s website, more than 17,000 World Changers volunteered at more than 1,200 work sites and 25 locations as part of 81 separate projects.

Williams said the students who visited her home last year were not only a big help to her, but were also enjoyable.

Even younger, smaller students found ways to assist.

“They got out there and they cleaned out my flower garden. I said ‘Lord, bless their hearts,’” Williams said.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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