Valley Relief Council shifts focus
Published: September 15, 2013
Two years after flooding devastated the homes of hundreds of Valley residents, a local organization that helped them to rebuild is shifting its focus.
The Valley Relief Council is currently seeking community support for its latest project, which will expand and refocus the group’s original mission to repair flood-damaged homes, said VRC chairperson Lucinda Brown.
In its new role, the VRC will build upon its previous experience arranging and facilitating groups of traveling and local volunteers to assist with necessary home repairs, Brown said.
However, the group is expanding its scope to assist neighbors in Sayre and Athens who don’t have the ability to make those repairs themselves. This includes low-income families and disabled and elderly homeowners, Brown said.
Brown is currently putting together a board of directors for the new venture and is pursuing grants and other fundraising avenues. Community support for the project is essential, she said.
“It’s up to the community in order to do these things,” Brown said. “We’re hoping to get enough interest to get off the ground and get moving.”
Brown said she has received a positive response so far from local leaders and businesspeople and hopes the community will see the value of the program as well. The mission stays true to the VRC’s experience in arranging and facilitating such work while continuing to help Valley neighbors and the community at large, Brown said.
The organization has retained its contacts with the countless groups that have come to the area over the past two years, Brown said. In addition, the group hopes to again connect with NeighborWorks, an affordable housing and community development organization that has provided VRC-aided homeowners with grants for materials in the past.
The organization also facilitates home repair and improvement programs and can assist with finding volunteers, Brown said.
Although two years have passed since floodwaters rushed into Sayre and Athens, the VRC’s original mission hasn’t been completed yet, Brown said. There is still work to be done in flooded homes, mainly small projects.
Volunteer groups continue to visit the area, staying in the former rectory of the Ascension of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church on North Higgins Avenue in East Sayre, where the VRC has held offices since its formation.
While work remains in 11 homes, all but two families assisted by the council are back in their residences, Brown said.
The rate at which volunteer groups have come to the area has slowed over the summer, but small groups have come for two or three days at a time to finish projects, Brown said, and groups continue to be scheduled for fall.
“We anticipate that when groups come, that they’ll be done very quickly,” Brown said.
For more information on the VRC or to participate, call Brown at (607) 731-9595.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.