Porch repair program will help restore our city’s soul

Porch repair program will help restore our city’s soul
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There may be no better way to understand a neighborhood than from the perch of its porches. A porch represents so much more than a few boards. In its truest form, it represents an extension of ourselves, our families and the community we live in.

It is the place where we connect with each other and see what’s going on around us. It’s a natural communication hub.

Chris Zuwala, a Potter Longway resident and association president discusses his neighborhood with Flint’s blight buster Raul Garcia, whose official City of Flint title is Blight Coordinator. Photo by Paul Engstrom

It is, in many communities, the window to our soul.

In the healthiest neighborhoods porches are neighborly places abuzz with activity. They are outdoor living rooms where neighbors gather to get to know one another or watch kids play, and they’re a vantage point to assess potentially problematic activity.

They are also iconic treasures whose very architecture is something that should be protected and preserved. Beginning this spring, they will be, thanks to a partnership between members of Flint Firefighters Union Local 352 and The Porch Project, a Flint community beautification effort,.

The intended goal of The Porch Project has been to use porch repairs and beautification efforts to promote “neighborliness” and help homeowners engage with other residents through increased use of their front yards, says Executive Director Megan Heyza. In that vein, the Local 352 will host service days on April 13 and May 4 to help area residents clean, spruce up and repair their porches. Volunteers will gather at 10 a.m. at Educare, 1000 Gladwyn St. in Flint.

The Porch Project brings area residents like homeowner Samantha Garcia, Porch Project Director Megan Heyza, UM-Flint assistant professor of biology Rebecca Tonietto and UM-Flint student Megan Cate.  2018 file photo courtesy of UM-Flint

The project gives Local 352 a more meaningful way to connect with Flint residents, says Danny Sniegocki, union member and Flint firefighter.

“The only time we get to engage with residents is in times of trauma,” says Sniegocki. “It is important to us, as firefighters, that we have an opportunity to work side by side with residents on a great community effort like The Porch Project.”

Local 352 and volunteer firefighters will lend their carpentry and landscaping skills, planting flowers and repairing the porches of more than 100 Flint homes.

“The talents of Flint Firefighters Union Local 352 firefighters will go a long way to help us meet our goal and to help increase neighborliness among residents,” says Heyza.

Flint 3rd Ward City Councilman Santino Guerra (2nd from left) is encouraged by the effort. Photo courtesy of Councilman Guerra

Residents interested in having repairs to their porch or who want to volunteer for one of the service days should visit The Porch Project’s Facebook page. All are welcome to participate, but there is a specific need for volunteers with carpentry skills, and for power-washers.

After the repairs are completed this spring the porches will be painted by Mid-Michigan Pride Painting. The work will take place in June, weather-permitting.

Flint 3rd Ward City Councilman Santino Guerra is encouraged by the effort.

“As a first responder myself, I am encouraged by the partnership and look forward to seeing all the great work The Porch Project will get done in 2019,” he says.

 

For additional information about The Porch Project call Megan Heyza at 810-228-9673 or email megan.porchproject@gmail.com.

 

Firefighters and volunteers from Flint Firefighters Union Local 352  will host service days on April 13 and May 4 to help area residents clean, spruce up and repair their porches. Volunteers will gather at 10 a.m. at Educare, 1000 Gladwyn St. in Flint. 

 

Lead photo: UM-Flint assistant professor of biology Dr. Rebecca Tonietto, and student Megan Cate working on The (2018) Porch Project. File courtesy of UM-Flint.

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