Neighborhood STRONG, a nonprofit that repairs derelict homes for low-income families, received a $23,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank in Dallas.
The organization was born in 2016 when Kenneth Campbell met a man whose house had been damaged after a tree fell on it. Campbell and his friend, Dr. Wayne Lawrence, decided something needed to be done to help the man, and Lawrence took the issue to a minister at First United Methodist Church. The church allocated money to hire a contractor, and Lawrence and Campbell repaired the home, which led to another home being repaired.
In order to receive funding to rebuild even more homes, Campbell and Lawrence filed for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and formed Neighborhood STRONG. Lawrence serves as director of the board and manages the enterprise, and Campbell is the projects manager.
The organization repaired 12 houses in 2017. It has finished 14 so far this year and anticipates completing 10 more by year’s end, Lawrence said.
In addition to the Federal Home Loan Bank in Dallas, the organization has received funding from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, the Kurth Foundation, Bernard Foundation and Pineywoods Foundation.
Applicants submit several documents, such as Social Security and financial statements, to show income. The board picks houses based on financial need and opens them to bid for contractors in the area. Their goal is to make houses as livable and safe as possible, Lawrence said.
Aside from contract work, STRONG partners with local churches and schools to produce volunteers. The volunteers clean and paint the houses to make them look as nice as possible after the repairs are finished.
“We didn’t know we would get into it this deep, but we kept seeing the need more and more,” Campbell said. “Dr. Lawrence works tirelessly, and we do what we do because we love it. ... It’s a continuous effort we just want to grow. We’re just hoping for this to catch on. Others in the area should donate, if it’s not money, it’s volunteer work, pull together. Move it along. It’s much needed.”