Alternative Spring Break

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)– With the power tools turning, it sounded like a NASCAR pit stop. And the students and staffers from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville were almost as fast.

WDBJ7 photo

In Roanoke on their alternative spring break, they were wasting no time, as they fabricated components for a wheelchair ramp.

“I think yesterday we were trying to get the hang of it,” said Meredith Bates, Americorps Volunteer Coordinator at SIUE. “For me I have never used a power tool, so for me it was a little different.”

“We got a really good understanding of the needs of the community, and we’ve been cranking things out.” said Mustafa Abdullah Jr., the school’s Coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life. “So this is day two and we’re pretty excited about our progress so far.”

Renovation Alliance has helped more than 600 low-income homeowners since 1999, providing critical repairs for free. Whether volunteers are working on the roof, the front porch or the plumbing, projects include general repair and maintenance, weatherization and accessibility.

Lindsay McKinnon is the group’s Community Development and Outreach Director.

“We started 20 years ago and served four houses,” McKinnon said in an interview. “And last year alone, we had 250 projects on 130 houses, so we’re growing exponentially.”

Renovation Alliance counts on volunteer labor, donated supplies and financial contributions. Friday evening, the organization will host Renovation Celebration, a family-friendly ticketed fundraiser that will support future projects.

Renovation Celebration Fundraiser

The new wheelchair accessibility ramp will help a senior who is having trouble getting in and out of her home. The students have completed the components, and now they’ll spend the next two days installing the ramp at the home in Franklin County.

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