SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People living in Springfield’s Old Hill Neighborhood have a renewed sense of pride their community. Just ask 82-year-old Curtis Vaughn. He’s lived at 124 King Street for more than 50 years. His children grew up there and some still live there.
“Like a dream. It really is. Its like a dream…I love everybody here who did this. I can’t believe it,” Vaughn said as he stared at his house and his street in disbelief. More than 1,200 volunteers shut down King Street to go house by house, renovating, rebuilding, painting, gardening and even installing energy efficient appliances.
Vaughn got a new furnace. He endured a winter without heat at his home. “My furnace blew out. The electricity blew out on me and my whole toilet system went. And it was real bad. Well, I couldn’t afford it. Just living off retirement now, you know,” Vaughn said.
The volunteers were all part of the organization Revitalize Community Development Corporation. It was formerly known as Rebuilding Together Springfield, which relied on donations of money and equipment and supplies to help rebuild the neighborhoods of Springfield. However, on January 1, 2015, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognized the organization as a Community Development Corporation, or CDC. That allowed the group to apply for state funding.
Among the volunteers were Berkshire Bank representatives, Springfield Housing Authority employees and students from UMass Amherst’s NAHB Student Chapter.
Revitalize CDC began in its former name in 1992 and has helped over 500 families in that time. However, it began its street-by-street revitalization project in 2013.
“We have our homeowners from other streets that are volunteering this year on this street and so it keeps growing too every year we get more and more homeowners and their families giving back,” President and CEO Colleen Loveless told 22News.
The purpose of this annual project is to quite literally clean up the neighborhood, but Loveless said in the process, neighbors get to know each other. And in return, they’ve cleaned up the crime as well.
Luz Colon and her family have lived on King Street for a few years. She was mulching the backyard as volunteers worked around her, removing a rotted boat, and rebuilding their porches. “It’s uh, I don’t have words for it. It’s great. I didn’t know that a neighborhood could get together like this and really help, and now I’m living it,” Colon said.