Rebuilding Together volunteers renovate
home of local family
Sunday, May 2, 2010
By MAREESA NICOSIA, The Saratogian
BALLSTON SPA — When Ernest Lionarons and his wife, Jacquelyn, called the state Weatherization Assistance Program to help fix heat ducts in their house last winter, they had no idea they’d just opened the door to a much-needed home renovation project. An advocate at WAP contacted Rebuilding Together on their behalf, and now the family’s Lewis Road home of 15 years is undergoing major repairs. The project is funded by a $10,000 Heroes at Home grant Rebuilding Together received from the retail corporation Sears Holdings. It will make the home safer, more energy-efficient and more accessible to Ernest Lionarons, who uses a wheelchair because of a diving accident that happened more than 20 years ago. On Saturday, an eight-member volunteer crew from Rebuilding Together worked to renovate the porch so Lionarons can more easily access the house. An existing ramp was fitted with new handrails, and volunteers built a second access ramp on a work shed next to the house.
Inside, volunteers have replaced leaky windows, fixed electrical problems, repaired a bathroom and plan to install new carpeting to finish off the job by next weekend. Local businesses provide discounted or free supplies, and volunteers provide the labor. “I’m just so thankful to (organizations) for supplying the materials, and the crew, they’re fantastic. To me it’s awesome,” said Lionarons, a Marine Corps veteran. His family, including his wife, Jacquelyn, and their 15-year-old daughter, Alicia, said they’ll feel safer and more secure when the project is complete. The window replacements and new carpets should help cut down on winter fuel costs, they added. “The volunteers come out here and help while they could be doing other things with their weekend,” Lionarons said. “It’s amazing what they do for people in my situation and other situations.”
The Heroes at Home grant will sponsor several projects for military families and veterans in Saratoga County this year; already, money has been put toward a roof for a veteran in Greenfield Center and a bathroom project at the Ballston Spa veteran’s shelter, organizers said. Sherie Grinter, a site coordinator for Rebuilding Together and a veteran volunteer, said the organization welcomes anyone willing to help out and will teach people skills needed to repair and rebuild homes. “It’s very rewarding work when you see the people that you’re actually helping,” she said. “There are a lot of people even in this time of economic problems who are willing to help.”
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