ENGLEWOOD — Thanks to volunteers and the generosity of a nonprofit organization, Bertha Tinsley is eating inside a renovated kitchen.
The retired, 70-year-old child care worker was among 45 Englewood homeowners who received free renovations from Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago Saturday. For the last three years Rebuilding Together has renovated 135 Englewood homes, according to Wanda Ramirez, the organization's executive director.
For Tinsley, a widow who has lived in the 5700 block of South Sangamon Street for 40 years, the remodeled kitchen is a "blessing from God."
Her kitchen has new cabinets, counters and a sink. Her dining and living rooms were painted as well.
And while Tinsley said she would have preferred to have her basement remodeled first, "I'll take what I can get for now because Lord knows I didn't have the money to get it done myself."
Each year Rebuilding renovates 100 Chicago homes with the help of corporate sponsors and dedicated volunteers, Ramirez said. Last year, 300 Chicago homeowners applied for the free renovations, which are done the last Saturday in April each year.
"The labor was done for free by union carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and construction workers. We also had volunteers from our sponsors who assisted the workers," Ramirez said. "We believe in making homes warm, safe and dry."
Volunteer work in Englewood is "the stuff that needs to be known in the community," said Matthew Palmisano, vice president of U.S. Bank’s Development Network chapter in Chicago. "We had 15 employees who volunteered to help with renovations. After all, we have a branch in Englewood and want to help improve the community as much as possible."
Applications for free renovations are accepted between June and October by calling the organization at 312-201-1188. The organization inspects each home and interviews the homeowner before a decision is made in December. To be eligible, the home must be the primary residence of the homeowner, who must meet federal income guidelines.
"Most of the homes we renovate in Chicago are occupied by low-income seniors," Ramirez said. "And any renovations we do must be completed in one day because we are working with volunteers."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: