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Volunteers Rebuild West Side Neighborhood

Tom Flanigan

A special neighborhood for very low-income families on Tallahassee's west side was the scene of intense activity over the weekend.

Local faith communities and fraternity chapters joined forces on the major makeover of Maryland Crossing. That subdivision is a 48-unit mobile home park off Blountstown Highway between West Tharpe and Highway 90. It's a ministry of Good News Outreach and is a refuge for single-parent families who make do on 25-percent or less of the area's median household income. That's where Brenda Barton from the all-volunteer Tallahassee Fuller Center for Housing had been focusing her organizational skills in recent days.

“Our founder was Millard Fuller who founded Habitat (for Humanity),” Barton said. “He founded the Fuller Center in 2005 and the Tallahassee Fuller Center works on a critical repair program for low-income families.”

She said Maryland Crossing was a prime candidate for Fuller Center attention.

“The need here is not beautification of these trailers, but to repair termite problems that are destroying some of the trailers’ value. So to keep that up, we all decided to come together as a collaborative project and work on it this week.”

Part of that collaboration was the New Harvest Christian Center where Danae Morgan is the volunteer coordinator.

“We heard of the Fuller Center and the wonderful things that they’re doing as far as the low-income people and the community and helping with critical repairs on their homes and that’s something that speaks to New Harvest’s heart, so we wanted to get together with the Fuller Center and Good News Outreach who do a wonderful thing here in the community and just do as much as we can.”

There was also a small army of fraternity men. Selvin Cobb is advisor of the Florida A&M University Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi.

“Three groups, all part of one organization that’s out here today giving back because this is a part of our program in leadership and training for leadership and it’s a community service,” he explained.

Andre Smith is the assistant advisor of the Kappa Alpha chapter at Florida State University.

“I’m out here helping them understand that being a role model for young kids is something they have to do if they want to be a part of this organization,” he said.

FSU Kappa member Jarvis Carr was among those swinging hammers and sawing wallboard.

“To show them that we really care about them and not just on the college scene," he said.  "We like to dig into the community and make a difference as well.

There were also some alums helping out, too.  Among them, former State Senator and current Congressional hopeful Al Lawson.

"I'm out here today with all these fraternity guys who are out here working and they're doing a great job and they see the need for what it takes in this community for people who don't have the same means in life, so I hope they'll take that with them in life."

An effort greatly appreciated by the nearly 50 families who call Maryland Crossing home.