Northern New York Newspapers
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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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T.I. Area Habitat for Humanity expands to include exterior renovations


While the Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity will remain focused on building homes, the agency also is trying a new venture — making exterior home improvements.

The Watertown-based agency recently launched a local version of Habitat for Humanity International’s program “A Brush With Kindness.”

According to Habitat’s website, the program “is an exterior home preservation service that offers painting, landscaping, weatherstripping and minor repair services for homeowners in need. ABWK helps low-income homeowners impacted by age, disability and family circumstances, who struggle to maintain the exterior of their homes, reclaim their homes with pride and dignity.”

“We traditionally have been building houses, but we found out if we can reach out to fix a porch or fix a sidewalk, or something to fix up a house within the community, that it’s a part of Habitat International’s mission,” said Brian R. Drappo, a member of the Thousand Islands Area Habitat’s building committee. “Because it’s newer, we’re trying to keep it small and get our feet wet.”

Only a few such projects will be done this summer. The first project was done Saturday when about 40 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division helped paint the exterior of Hope Presbyterian Church on LeRay Street. Mr. Drappo said while people are still being recruited for the home-building component, the agency is booked with enough volunteers to do the few projects selected throughout the Watertown community.

Habitat and its volunteers will supply the labor for renovation and repair projects this summer, while participating organizations and families have picked up the cost of some or all materials.

Mr. Drappo said Habitat will partner with Neighbors of Watertown and other community housing agencies to identify people and families who could benefit from the new program.

“We have a couple more that we will be involved with this summer, such as helping to side a home and build a ramp, and then we should be ready to start construction on our next build on Superior Street,” Pamela M. Rajner, local Habitat volunteer coordinator, said in an email to the Times.

Mr. Drappo said that home will be adjacent to two that were constructed with the help of Actus Lend Lease LLC, the company that manages Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes. The new building project will begin in August.

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